Summer has hit and with it so have the near triple digit temperatures. Our air conditioner seems to be running full time and it makes me wonder how we ever survived last summer without one. And goodness, its only June! Because our house is so warm I try to come up with as many meals I can make with out using the oven. I’m sure many of you do the same. The other morning I was making bread at 6am trying to beat the heat!
So what do you do when you crave the cheesy comforting goodness of lasagna but don’t want the heat that comes with running your oven for an hour? Simple you pull out your slow cooker.
I love this lasagna recipe for a few reasons. First, I don’t love traditional lasagna with ricotta cheese, lots of sauce, and sausage. So if you claim to not like lasagna you and I could have a talk. I hated it for years. That is until I came up with this vegetarian / healthier option. Second, because it is summer I love using a ton of produce in my cooking. I love fresh tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and fresh basil. Throw all of those yummy things together between layers of noodles and I am one happy person.
Now I am no expert when it comes to slow cookers. Frankly they scare me and I have a fear of either burning the house down or finding that my meal that has been cooking for 6 hours is still not done cooking. Which is funny because growing up in Utah I always heard we were the slow cooker capital of the world. And by the way we called them crock pots instead of slow cookers. Take your pick. So because of my fear I avoided slow cookers for a long long time. That is until I decided to get brave one day and try making lasagna. It turned out great and I might even try cooking a few more things in my slow cooker now.
This recipe is ready in a little over an hour, with just 15 minutes prep on your end. If you want it to cook even longer see my alternative baking times below. And if you want an even faster prep spend the few cents more and buy oven-ready noodles. Just layer your ingredients and step away. Its as simple as that.
Yield: 4 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes Prep: 15 minutes *see alternative*
- 1/2 box lasagna noodles
- 1 c seasoned tomato sauce
- 1/3 onion, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 1 small yellow squash, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 4 small mushrooms, chopped
- 1 c loosely packed spinach
- 1/4 c loosely packed fresh basil
- 1 – 1 1/2 c shredded cheeses ( I like a mix of Parmesan, Mozzarella, Feta, and Italian )
- salt and pepper to taste
- slow cooker
- Step 1
Begin heating slow cooker on high heat. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add lasagna noodles and simmer until al dente. While noodles are cooking wash and chop all vegetables, spinach, and basil. When noodles are done, drain and allow to cool enough that you can touch them.
*For an alternative you can purchase oven-ready noodles which saves you a little time and effort!
- Step 2
Layer ingredients in slow cooker beginning with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of noodles.
Alternate remaining ingredients reserving a layer of noodles, 1/4 c sauce, and 1/3 c cheese for the top layer. As I layer my lasagna I like to sprinkle a little salt and pepper over my squash, zucchini, and tomatoes. For the final layer place noodles, sauce, then cheese on top of lasagna.
- Step 3
Cover slow cooker and cook lasagna on high until vegetables are tender and cheese is melted. I would recommend cooking on high for 45 minutes – 1 hour.
*If you want it to cook a little longer to accommodate your busy schedule turn the slow cooker from high heat to low heat and cook your lasagna 2 1/2 – 3 hours on low heat.
- Step 4
Serve and enjoy!I love how quick and easy this is. I love that its easy to clean up and that my kitchen isn’t full of dishes. But most of all I love that it doesn’t heat my house up during this heat. Bring on summer because there is no need to heat up the oven for lasagna anymore!