Lasagna is an Italian layered casserole full of cheesy goodness. Surprisingly, when I looked up it’s history, I discovered it derived from Ancient Greece. where according to Mi’Talia, a dish called laganon was popular. Laganon, as it happens, was the first pasta, made from sheets of dough cut into thin strips. https://www.tastingtable.com/820872/the-origin-of-lasagna-isnt-what-you-think/
It made its way to Italy in the Middle Ages. Early lasagna did not contain tomatoes, only noodles with a béchamel sauce. Eventually a ragu sauce was added with Spinach in the dough. This originated in Bologna. It eventually became popular in Naples in the 1880’s where tomatoes were introduced into the recipe. https://www.italymagazine.com/dual-language/short-history-lasagna
I make a vegetarian version loaded with lots of vegetables. I make it all different ways-usually baked in the oven. This time I wanted to make a very quick version of it in the crockpot. You can use a quick homemade marinara sauce or in a pinch, use a commercial spaghetti sauce. I don’t boil the noodles first. Adding in additional sauce will “cook” the noodles in the pot or pan. I threw this together with some leftover noodles I had in the cupboard so I only made 2 layers. Generally I would use a third layer of noodles. You can layer it up as high as your pan will allow if you have enough ingredients. I’ll give you both the oven and crockpot versions. The oven version is much crispier. You can take out the serving portions out of the crockpot and broil them for a few minutes to crisp. I was pleasantly surprised that the cheese and top browned and was somewhat crisped in the crockpot. You can use all kinds of vegetables, I load it up.
Quick Hint: Cook the veggies first either sautéing or microwaving them to remove the excess moisture. Use a slotted spoon to drain them.
It’s a quick and tasty lasagna. Enjoy!
A low carb version can be made with thin zucchini strips (heavily salt first on a cookie sheet and paper towels for a minimum of 30 minutes to draw out the moisture, the longer the better). Replace the noodles with the zucchini strips. You need 2-3 medium zucchini sliced very thin. Some markets sell sliced zucchini.
I usually make this vegetarian. I have sometimes added soy crumbles. You can add in lots of different vegetables (fresh tomatoes, zucchini slices, onions, mushrooms, spinach, etc. ).
If you prefer a meat version-add in cooked lean ground beef, Italian sausage or Italian chicken sausage or pepperoni.
Make a batch of homemade marinara sauce if desired. I use lots of fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, oregano. There are tons of recipes online. I make a large pot and freeze it for future use. Otherwise use a commercial spaghetti sauce. This time I used a jar of sauce to save time as I was out of homemade marinara.
I -24 ounces jar of sauce. or homemade marinara sauce.
2 cups fresh spinach (microwave to cook and wring out moisture)
8 ounces of sliced mushrooms (additional veggies if desired-sauté or microwave to reduce the amount of liquid in them)
8 ounces of part skim ricotta cheese (cottage cheese can be substituted in a pinch)
2 beaten eggs (I sometimes leave them out, not too much difference in the result)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
4 ounces shredded part skim mozzarella
4 ounces fresh mozzarella (you can use more shredded if you don’t have fresh available)
2 tablespoons ground basil
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (if you have it)
2 tablespoons ground oregano
4-6 tablespoons garlic powder
1/2-1 tablespoons ground pepper
Shake of red pepper flakes
No boil or regular lasagna noodles (minimum of 5-6 for 2 layers -more for additional layers)
Place a layer of the sauce on the bottom of the pot. Be generous as the noodles absorb the sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Break them to fit all the space. Next layer the mushrooms and other veggies. Sprinkle some of the spices on top. Mix the cooked spinach with the ricotta cheese, remaining basil, garlic and oregano. Add in the eggs to the spinach ricotta mixture (if you’re using the eggs). It will make it creamier. Spread a layer of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle a layer of Parmesan and shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Next add more noodles. Add a layer of sauce, than mushrooms, cheese (additional ricotta if adding more layers of noodles), or if top layer, more Parmesan and the fresh Mozzarella. (Or additional shredded mozzarella if no fresh). Sprinkle with fresh basil.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
Take out your serving portion and Broil for a few minutes to brown further if desired.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 13” x 9” baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Follow layering instructions above. Make sure each layer covers the whole pan. Place pan on a large cookie sheet or piece of foil in case it boils over. Cook it for 45-60 minutes until the top is brown and crispy. Let rest a few minutes before slicing.
Serve it with a salad, Italian bread and a nice glass of wine or sparkling water. Enjoy!