Crockpot Lasagne (Alternative Title: Why, God, Why?)

I love my crock pot, even if roughly 98.4% of the slow cooker recipes online contain enough fat to choke a developing country. The challenge is always – ALWAYS – finding recipes that don’t contain cream.

Let me make this clear – I am no paragon of healthy eating. I just try. Sometimes. And sometimes I get lucky. But sometimes the lure of the slow cooker sucks me in, and I feel a craving for a meal I know will end poorly.

Nevertheless, I try. And so when I saw this recipe for slow-cooker lasagne AND the spaghetti models suggested our area might get some hurricane-ish weather in August, I caved.

It looked pretty simple, as far as lasagne goes. Layer in sauce, pasta (uncooked), and a mixture of cheeses, spinach, sliced zucchini, and mushroom. Continue layering. Set slow cooker for x number of hours. Enjoy.

I was really looking forward to this, too. Damn.

It all went well to the last part. It wasn’t bad, per se, just… not worth it. It was zero less work than regular lasagne, tasted not quite as good, and took five times as long to cook.

I am deliberately not posting a link to any of the recipes online for this. Let this just serve as a warning: don’t do it. If you want an easy-to-make lasagne, try this instead – it’s a standby in the Salustri house:

Lasagne noodles
Tomato gravy*
16 oz tub ricotta**
1 large package mozzarella or two small packages ***

1. Preheat oven to 425º
2. Spread a thin layer of gravy in a lasagne-sized pan (shallow and rectangular)
3. Add layer of macaroni (you can pre-cook these or buy the pre-cooked; it will make no difference)
4. Dot the macaroni with large spoonfuls of ricotta, about two inches apart
5. In between the ricotta, add slices of mozzarella
6. Cover with a layer of gravy
7. Repeat steps 3 – 6 as needed
8. Cover top layer of gravy with slices of mozzarella
9. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the edges of the pasta is slightly brown

Really, that’s it. No béchamel, no fancy mixtures with egg and whatever. If you follow these steps, it will taste great.

*I can’t vouch for this if you use canned or jarred tomato gravy (you may call it sauce), so I included a link to my grandmother’s tomato gravy.

**Please don’t try and make lasagne if you want to have diet food, or low fat. Use whole milk or, if you’re stubborn, part skim cheese – NEVER use fat free. Ever. Or cottage cheese. We’ll know and we’ll find you. I also don’t generally suggest using store brand cheese unilaterally; compare the ingredients with Polly-O or Sorrento before you decide all store brands are the same. Sometimes they are not.

***We’re giving you a “painless, easy” lasagne recipe, and therefore I would discourage you from seeking out water-packed, buffalo, or fresh mozzarella. This is not the dish with which you should try and get fancy. Master this first, and we’ll move on from there.

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