Monday, February 28, 2011

Crock Pot Lasagna Florentine

                  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a cheeseball, on so many levels, but probably most notably for my love of cheese.  I, seriously, have never met a cheese I didn't like.  Mild, sharp, creamy, crumbly, moldy, me, they are all manifestations of love. So, one of the hardest things to swallow when faced with the oven-less kitchen was the lack of ooey gooey cheesy baked goodness in my life.  No baked macaroni and cheese?  No stuffed shells?  No manicotti?  No lasagna?  You might as well throw the burlap sack over my head and march me to the gallows!  Surely a life without lasagna is a life not worth living, and I do believe Garfield would agree!

It became imperative that I find a way around this lasagna quandary...and fast! Initially I thought the toaster oven might be my savior, but as I mentioned before, it's teeny tiny. So, unless I wanted to make a lasagna amuse-bouche (calorically prudent, but really who eats 2 bites of lasagna?) it was practically useless.  Surveying the rest of my kitchen arsenal didn't yield a promising contender so I was left with the old stand by crock pot...not just for pot roast anymore (though stay tuned because I'll be posting my recipe for the pot roast that saved Christmas Eve soon).  

I have to say, I went into this lasagna endeavor a little gun shy and skeptical, fully expecting a lasagna soup kind of outcome.  Imagine my surprise when after a few hours, I removed the crock pot lid to reveal a perfectly cooked lasagna!  Now, if you're one of those people who live for the crispy, crunchy edges that only an oven can produce, sorry Charlie, you're outta luck.  But, if you're in it for the right reasons (the cheesy deliciousness!) this recipe will not disappoint! One note: once it's finished cooking, turn off the crock pot and allow the lasagna to sit for a good 20-30 min or so.  I made the mistake of diving in too soon; partly out of hunger and partly because I'm a gluttonous cheese-lover and it's next to impossible for me to let a lasagna "rest",  so while I still didn't end up with soup, it was definitely too hot for the pieces to hold their shape and what resulted was a slidey, gooey, fantastic mess on my plate (hence, no plated pictures). So trust me....let it sit!

Crock Pot Lasagna Florentine

2 cups (16 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1 tbsp parsley
1/2 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper 
2 cups (16 oz) finely shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
2 cups fresh baby spinach
6-7 cups pasta sauce (you'll want to use a thinner variety of sauce as opposed to a chunky marinara)
12 oz uncooked lasagna noodles
1/2 cup red wine (optional..adds an additional 8 calories per serving)
**Here is my rule about cooking with wine: never use a wine in your meal that you wouldn't want to drink with your meal.**

Calories: 412 Fat: 13g Carbohydrate: 49g Protein: 24g Fiber: 7g Serves: 10

Now I know this may seem like a relatively unhealthy meal, but by comparison, a frozen Lean Cuisine Classic 5 Cheese Lasagna's stats are: 
Calories: 360 Fat: 8g Carbohydrate: 51g Protein: 21g Fiber: 4g

When you consider that mine is homemade, fresh and heartier - especially when paired with a salad or veggie, I think I come out the clear winner.  :)  If you prefer a meat lasagna, simply replace the spinach with fully cooked ground beef, turkey or sausage (nutritional information will be affected).  

Ok here we go:

In a small mixing bowl, combine first 5 ingredients and mix well.

Lightly spray a 5-6 quart crock pot with cooking oil spray and ladle in sauce until the bottom is fully covered. Then add a layer of lasagna noodles, breaking them to fit as needed - it doesn't have to be pretty. 

Cover the noodles with a thin layer (3-4 tbsp) of your ricotta mixture, then a small handful of shredded mozzarella and sprinkle with a couple tablespoons of grated pecorino romano.  

Add a layer of spinach (a good handful or 2). 
Finally, add another healthy layer of sauce.

Repeat this process until you've used all your ricotta mixture, pecorino romano and spinach.  Finish off the top of your lasagna with a final layer of noodles and the remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese.  I then drizzled red wine around the edges of the lasagna to add some depth of flavor and extra moisture.  Feel free to incorporate it into your sauce, or leave it out altogether, though.

Cover and cook on high until lasagna noodles are cooked all the way through, about 3-31/2 hours. Then, and I mean this, let it rest for 20-30 minutes before digging in.

Bon appetit!


  1. It never dawned on me that you could actually make Lasagna on a day when you would not be home. I'm pretty sure that if you cooked it on low all day it would be just as good and hot to go when you returned. I think I may give it a try. Thanks babe.

  2. Loving the blog! Good work. I have done the crockpot lasagna before and my learning was to make it on a day when you are home and can do the shorter time on high. I did this once on low while I was at work for 8 hours and came back to a mushy, uneatable mess!

  3. Thanks Jess! I had that concern about cooking it all day....thought it would probably turn into a big pot of mush. Thanks for confirming! :)

  4. Jourdan, I am loving the blog!!! I love the way it's developing, the direction it's going in and, most of all, I love the recipes. Look out Rachel Ray :-)

    Keep it up. Can't wait to read more. Oh yeah, clean you mailbox. I can't leave a message. Ciao.