Cooking pasta right in the sauce in a slow cooker makes oodles of sense. Not only is it an easy, set-it-and-forget-it cooking method, but it also is a way of infusing the noodles with all the flavors of the sauce. The recipe below includes fresh asparagus, making it an elegant vegetarian side dish.
If you want to make this into a full meal, add bite-sized chunks of boneless, skinless chicken breast to the mix right from the beginning. Or stir in a pound or so of shrimp for the last 15 minutes of cooking. To keep it vegetarian but add a bit of protein, stir in a drained and rinsed can of white beans 5 or 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, just long enough for them to heat through.