When I was growing up, my siblings and I rarely agreed on meals. I hated my brother’s favorite meatloaf, and my sister disliked my first choice: bratwurst. But we all liked lasagna. It’s one of those meals that I’m never not in the mood for. It's melty, meaty and satisfying. When paired with a salad and some crunchy garlic bread, it just might be the best meal ever.
Slow cooker lasagna is a snap to make and tastes just like the classic. Using Italian sausage gives a richer flavor than plain ground beef. You can use either hot or sweet depending on your taste. I prefer the taste of cottage cheese over the more classic ricotta, but either would work here.
Classic Slow Cooker Meat and Cheese Lasagna
2 hours, 20 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small sweet onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds Italian sausage, casings removed
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 24-ounce cans good-quality Italian pasta sauce
1/3 cup red wine
1/3 cup chicken broth
12 to 16 uncooked no-boil lasagna noodles
3 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta cheese)
2 tablespoons fresh oregano
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until soft but not browned. Add Italian sausage, salt and red pepper and cook for 8 minutes, until the ground meat is no longer pink. Set aside.
Mix pasta sauce, wine and chicken broth together in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine cottage cheese, oregano and parsley.
Spread a third of the sauce on the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Add a double layer of noodles, breaking to fit if necessary. Over the noodles, spread a third of the cottage mix, a third of each cheese, and a third of the meat mixture. Repeat layers with sauce and noodles, and then cheese and meat. End the layers with noodles and sauce. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan.
Cover and cook for 2 hours on high, or until noodles are tender.
When lasagna has finished cooking, turn the slow cooker off but keep the lid on. Let lasagna rest for 15 minutes. This will make it easier to cut into nice squares.
Pro tip: For easier serving, line the slow cooker with heavy-duty foil, leaving long edges that hang over the sides of the cooker, before assembling the lasagna. After cooking, use the edges to carefully lift out the whole lasagna.