No-fail lasagna that is super simple and you don’t have to pre-cook the noodles. It is loaded with flavor through and through. This is a tried and true recipe that I have cooked many times over the years.
Prep Time:30 minutes
Cook Time:4-8 hours
Total Time:30 minute
Yield:10-12 servings 1x
1 1/2 large Sweet Onion, chopped
6 large Garlic Cloves, chopped
Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
2 lbs Hot Italian Sausage, bulk
2 – 28 oz cans Crushed Tomatoes
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 cup Fresh Basil, chopped
3 tablespoons Fresh Oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Fennel Seeds
Meat Sauce (see above)
Approximately 16–20 Lasagna Noodles, dry
20 oz fresh Mozzarella Cheese, divided (12 oz grated) (8 oz cubed)
1 1/2 cups Parmesan Cheese, grated
3 cups Ricotta Cheese
Saute 1 1/2 large onions (chopped) in large dutch oven over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes until tender and translucent. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add 6 cloves garlic (chopped) and continue cooking for 1 minute.
Add 2 pounds Hot Italian Sausage and cook until browned. Drain.
Add 2 -28 ounce cans Crushed Tomatoes, 1 teaspoon Onion Powder, 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder, 1/2 cup Fresh Basil (chopped) 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar and 1 tablespoon Fennel Seeds. Set aside until ready to assemble the lasagna.
Combine 12 oz of grated Mozzarella, 1 1/2 cups Parmesan Cheese (grated), and3 cups Ricotta Cheese.
In a 6-quart, removable crockpot, add 2 cups meat sauce and 4-5 dry noodles (broken to fit).
Layer – 1/2 the cheese mixture, 2 cups sauce and 4-5 noodles for 2 times. End with the meat sauce. You should have 4 layers of sauce, 3 layers of noodles and 2 layers of cheese mixture.
Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours.
When noodles are tender, remove the ceramic pot from the slow cooker and add the remaining 8 oz cubed mozzarella to the top of the lasagna. Place in a 400°F preheated oven until the mozzarella cheese melts. Remove from oven and add small basil leaves for garnishment (optional).
Sautéeing intensifies the onions’ natural sugars and releases a heavenly sweetness as the onions become softened. It takes anywhere from 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, to achieve this stage.
Throw the chopped garlic in after the onion has become tender. If you let them cook from the beginning, they will cook too long and burn which will leave a bitter taste in the recipe. One minute really is all these amazing little gems need to cook.
There’s a lot of greasy juice that is collected at the bottom of the pan while cooking the sausage. Once the meat is browned, use a large metal sieve to drain it into a bowl. Use paper towels to dab up any additional grease on the meat.
Usually, I want my “spaghetti” sauce to simmer for hours to let all the flavors meld together. And then if you wait until the next day to eat it, the richness of the flavors is increased even more. But because this sauce will “simmer” in the crockpot for at least four hours on high, the desired results will be accomplished just the same.
Ricotta cheese, which is more traditional in Southern Italy (bechamel is used in North Italy), is creamier, subtly sweeter and more flavorful than cottage cheese. Cottage cheese, which in my opinion has become an American substitute.
Never buy pre-grated parmesan cheese. It’s always fresher and best when grated right before needing it.
I used to grate parmesan cheese down to the rind and throw the rind away because I thought there was no other use for it. But oh, the plethora of ideas to use this part of the cheese. Throw them into pots of soup, stews or tomato sauce to give additional flavor. When done, pull out the rind and then you can throw it away. Use it as an infusion to olive oil. Throw it in when you are steaming artichokes. Put the rind in the pot when you are making risotto, then remove it before serving. It’s an expensive cheese, so you want to make the most of it.
Using fresh mozzarella instead of shredded mozzarella adds a deeper, richer dairy flavor. It not only gives a nice texture to the dish but brings with it more taste.
When buying lasagna noodles for this recipe, don’t grab the pre-cooked ones. The regular, good-ol’ ones that your mama always cooked with, grab those. All that saucy goodness in the pot cook the noodles to perfect tenderness over a four hour period.
Since we’re not using a rectangular baking dish, the noodles need to be broken a bit to fit, kind of like a puzzle.
Once you get the noodles in place, dollop the cheese mixture on top of them. Use a lot of small dollops though because it doesn’t spread that easily. You have to gently coerce the cheese to fit in all the space while not rearranging the noodles. Be patient. What worked best was to use the back of a wooden spoon and gently roll the spoon back and forth over the cheese.
Serving Size:1/12 of Pan
Saturated Fat:11 g
Unsaturated Fat:2 g
Trans Fat:0 g
Keywords: Lasagna, Crock Pot Lasagna, Crock Pot, Comfort Food