This slow cooker lasagna recipe is perfect for large family gatherings or Super Bowl viewing parties. Recently I killed my Cuisinart slow cooker when I mistakenly turned on the HIGH setting with no food in it. Just as I was prepared to cook, I heard a big crack and the removable ceramic container split in half. I researched replacement containers but realized that my slow cooker (purchased in 1999 or 2000) was so old that you couldn’t get parts any more. So I upgraded to a digital Cuisinart slow cooker with built-in steamer and brown/saute functions.

ripened_2013I rarely make lasagna because it seems like a huge amount of work for one person – and then I have it for leftovers for weeks and get bored. But this slow cooker lasagna recipe intrigued me because it appeared to really simplify the cooking process. Overall, I was pleased with how it turned out – though I still had tons of leftovers. But this time, I put most of them in labeled freezer containers and stored in the deep freeze for the next time I get a craving.

Update December 2013: This recipe was recognized as runner up in the 2013 Dei Fratelli Ripened Recipe Contest.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

Lightly coat the inside of a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. [I am also a fan of the new slow cooker liners, because they really save on clean up time.]

Italian sausage in bulk

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until brown. Break up the meat as it cooks. Stir in the marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Remove from heat.

Place about 1/2 cup of the meat / marinara mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker (this will allow the bottom layer of noodles to properly cook). Layer 4 of the noodles on top of the meat mixture. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, then 1/3 of the remaining meat / marinara mixture, and about 1/3 of the shredded cheese. That’s NOODLES – RICOTTA – MEAT/MARINARA – SHREDDED CHEESE. Repeat the layers two more times starting with the noodles.

Cover and cook on high-heat setting for up to 3 hours. Let stand, uncovered, for about 15 minutes before serving.

slow cooker lasagna garnished with Italian cheese

Serve individual portions sprinkled with fresh Parmesan or shredded Italian cheese bend. Freeze any slow cooker lasagna leftovers for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

Zesty Italian Slow Cooker Lasagna

Cook Time: 3 hours

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
16 ounces ricotta cheese
8 ounces shredded Italian cheese blend
additional shredded Italian or Parmesan cheese for garnish

Instructions

Lightly coat the inside of a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker with

non-stick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until brown. Break up the meat as it cooks. Stir in the marinara sauce and chopped Italian tomatoes. Remove from heat.

Place about 1/2 cup of the meat / marinara mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker (this will allow the bottom layer of noodles to properly cook).

Layer 4 of the noodles on top of the meat mixture. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, then 1/3 of the remaining meat / marinara mixture, and about 1/3 of the shredded cheese. That’s noodles, ricotta, meat/marinara/shredded cheese.

Repeat the layers two more times starting with the noodles.

Cover and cook on high-heat setting for up to 3 hours.

Let stand, uncovered, for about 15 minutes before serving.

Serve individual portions sprinkled with fresh Parmesan or shredded Italian cheese blend. Freeze any slow cooker lasagna leftovers for up to 3 months in an airtight container.

http://bakedchicago.com/slow-cooker-lasagna/