Vegetable lasagna is one of my favorite cold weather comfort foods, especially when autumn vegetables like zucchini are abundant. It’s a great meatless main dish, too, because it is filling and pairs perfectly with a quick salad. However, it can be difficult to make lasagna on weeknights since the traditional preparation is so time consuming– up to an hour of hands-on time!
This easy vegetable lasagna recipe avoids many of the pitfalls of traditional preparation by utilizing some useful short-cuts to save time. Instead of parboiling the noodles and assembling the casserole in a baking dish, we’ll layer sauce, cheese, veggies and raw lasagna noodles right in a slow cooker. Since the slow cooker retains more moisture than traditional oven cooking, there is enough liquid in the casserole to completely cook the noodles right in the dish. There’s no need to use special no-boil noodles, either. Plain raw lasagna noodles are just fine.
Another time saver I like to use for this recipe is my food processor. I use the grater attachment to process my raw veggies for the dish in much less time than it would take to grate or dice them by hand. These veggies blend right into the pasta sauce of the lasagna and give the dish a rich texture and flavor, without adding distinguishable chunks of vegetables. If your family likes chunkier veggie lasagna, by all means cook the recipe as directed with chopped veggies an it will turn out great. Either way, the total prep time for this lasagna should take less than half an hour.
Slow Cooker Vegetable Lasagna (serves 8 )
adapted from “Slow Cooker Lasagna” by BettyCrocker.com
15-ounces ricotta cheeese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups shredded vegetables: your choice of onions, broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, or greens. One large zucchini and half of a large onion yield about 2 cups.
10 lasagna noodles, about 1/2 of a 1 lb. package
24-ounce jar organic pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
In a large bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, egg, oregano, and garlic powder.
Shred or chop the vegetables of your choice. Break the lasagna noodles into approximately 1/3-noodle sized pieces with your hands, so that they will fit easily into the crock pot.
Use a ladle to scoop about 1 cup of sauce into the slow cooker. Place a single layer of noodles on the sauce. Layer 1 cup of shredded vegetables on top of the noodles, followed by half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Repeat the sauce-noodle-vegetable-cheese layers. Cover this with the remaining noodles. Ladle the remaining sauce over the casserole and sprinkle mozzarella cheese over the top. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until noodles are tender and most of the liquid in the casserole has been absorbed.