First, let me say that appearance isn’t everything. Our mothers alway told us that when we were in middle school, and well, we all knew it wasn’t true. But, in this case please believe me when I tell you appearance isn’t everything (we have all matured a bit, haven’t we?).
This lasagna is one of the more amazing I’ve tasted, and by far the best I’ve ever made, only it may more rightly be called a deconstructed lasagna, because it bares little visual resemblance to its neatly layered relative. It did, after all, come out of the crock-pot. The recipe was clipped it out of the San Francisco Chronicle this last month (at the moment I can’t track down the original recipe online, but when I do I’ll post it too).
Coming together in just about half an hour, the remaining several hours of cooking time gives you the freedom to work on a craft project, clean the house, or write a ten page paper analyzing the management model of Amazon Inc. Can you guess which one I was doing?
I will warn you that I had a little overflow problem; perhaps my zucchini was too moist, or my sauce too runny, I’m not sure, but my little 3 quart Crock Pot was full and I had to drain a little of the liquid part-way through cooking. I think if you made this lasagna in a larger Crock Pot you may not have the excess liquid issue and it might be a little more layered when it gets to the plate. If you try it, please let me know. Either way, whatever size Crock Pot you have, this lasagna should make its way to your dinner table soon!
Crock Pot Lasagna
Loosely based on a recipe from the San Francisco Chronicle
½ lb ground turkey
½ lb italian sausage (I used the sweet Italian pork sausage from local Oakland Bay Farms)
1 c chopped onion
4 large cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can chunky tomato sauce
6 oz can tomato paste (or about 1/2 cup more sauce or diced tomatoes)
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon basil
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 tsp. sugar
¼ cup of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
8 oz cottage cheese
8 oz ricotta cheese (I used half cottage and half ricotta cheese but you could use all of either)
16 oz shredded mozzarella
¼ tsp nutmeg
13 oz lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
several handfuls of spinach
Lightly brown the meat, onion, and garlic in olive oil. Add tomato sauce and herbs. Allow to cook down, uncovered, just a bit. Add sugar, wine, and salt and pepper to taste. Adjust acidity to suit your taste buds with more or less sugar. Stir well and simmer.
Combine cottage cheese, ricotta and three-quarters of the mozzarella. Stir well and add ground nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. (I think I also added a little more thyme and basil to the cheeses, but I can’t remember.)
Ladle about a cup of meat sauce into bottom of crock pot. Break noodles to fit and add a double layer off noodles on top of sauce. Top noodles with half of cheese mixture. Add more sauce, a layer of noodles and remaining cheese. Layer spinach and zucchini over top. Press down and pour remaining sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella.
Cover, cook on low 4 hours or high for 2 hours, until noodles are tender. Keep an eye out for overflow! Turn off pot and remove cover for a few minutes to let noodles and sauce set.