I love lasagna; the flavors and layers melting together, the garlicky tomato sauce, the ooey gooey cheese, the visual appeal of all those neat layers stacked up just waiting for someone to dig in. In the past, I’ve enjoyed making a big batch and freezing some to eat later. I needed to tweak my recipe and try something new though when it was my time to bring lunch for my coworkers again. I needed a hearty and filling vegetarian recipe that could cook for hours unattended in the work lunchroom and be ready right on time for lunch without everyone needing to heat up their own individual portions.
I wasn’t sure it would be possible until I started encountering some slow cooker lasagna recipes online. Some didn’t include enough flavor, others not enough layers. I finally ended up taking ideas from a couple different recipes and making my own. My coworkers loved it and the few leftovers reheated wonderfully the next day.
A word of warning, this adaptation of moving lasagna from oven baked dish to slow cooker was not done to skip steps or make cooking lasagna easier. I wanted a full-flavored lasagna and enjoy making neat layers and piecing together the puzzle of lasagna noodles. The goal was to make a transportable lasagna that I could make well in advance of serving time but have it hot and ready to serve when we were ready to eat. This recipe definitely met my goals. I hope you enjoy!
1 – 1.5 jar(s) (25- to 26-ounce) marinara sauce
1 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) diced tomatoes
Crushed red pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon each dried basil, oregano, parsley
1 package (8- to 9-ounce) oven-ready (no-boil) lasagna noodles
1 container (15-ounce) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 package (8-ounce) shredded Italian cheese blend or shredded mozzarella cheese
1 package(s) (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
½ onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup veggie crumbles (tofu/soy ground beef substitute)
- Cook the onion and veggie crumble in the olive oil. Add the minced garlic and stir to combine. Remove from the heat.
- In medium bowl, combine marinara sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, dried herbs, and tomatoes with their juice.
- Mix the ricotta with shredded cheese, keeping at least ¾ cup in reserve.
- Spray 4 1/2- to 6-quart slow-cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon 1 cup tomato-sauce mixture into bowl. Arrange one fourth of noodles over sauce, overlapping noodles and breaking into large pieces to cover as much sauce as possible. Spoon enough sauce to cover over the noodles, then top with one third of the ricotta mixture. Spread half of spinach over cheese.
- Repeat layering 2 more times beginning with noodles, but in middle layer, replace spinach with veggie crumble/onion mixture. Place remaining noodles over spinach, then top with remaining sauce and shredded cheese.
- Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low setting for 2.5 to 4 hours, or on high setting 1.5 to 1.75 hours or until noodles are very tender.
I like my lasagna moist and the noodles fully cooked, hence the extra half jar of sauce. For mine, since I knew I’d be cooking it for a little over four hours, I also added 6 oz. of V-8 to keep it from drying out.
If you like meat, you can replace the veggie crumble with ground beef and brown the meat with the onions and garlic in Step 1.