Who knew the slow cooker is also a perfect lasagna cooker? Layer everything and turn it on to low; in three hours you have a perfectly cooked lasagna you can serve up with a spoon. A deliciously cheesy way to get your veggies in!
canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) sliced mushrooms
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small red, yellow or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 10 oz (300 g) pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp (5 ml) Italian seasoning
1 cup (250 ml) ricotta
3 cups (750 ml) tomato sauce
12 uncooked lasagna noodles (regular or oven-ready) or 4 fresh pasta sheets, trimmed to fit
3 cups (750 ml) grated mozzarella or Italian cheese blend
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly grated Parmesan (optional)
Set a large skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of oil and sauté the onion, mushrooms, zucchini and peppers, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until any excess moisture cooks off and they begin to turn golden. Squeeze as much moisture as you can out of the spinach and add it along with the garlic and Italian seasoning; cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, then stir in the ricotta.
Spray the bowl of a 4–6 quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Spread about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom, then lay three noodles overtop, snapping them so that they roughly fit (they don’t have to be perfect!). Use the broken pieces to fill any gaps. Spread another quarter of the sauce over the noodles, then top with a third of the vegetable mixture and a quarter of the grated mozzarella. Repeat with two more layers of noodles-sauce-vegetables-cheese, then finish with a final layer of noodles, the rest of the sauce and the rest of the mozzarella, along with the Parmesan if you’re using it.
Cover and cook on low for three hours, until the noodles are tender all the way through.
Per serving: 234 calories, 12.2 g fat (7.7 g saturated fat, 3.5 g monounsaturated fat, 0.8 g polyunsaturated fat), 59 mg cholesterol, 25.2 g carbohydrate, 23.6 g protein, 3.8 g fibre.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, February/March 2016.