Slow Cooker Turkey Lasagna – Yes it is possible

I love Barefoot Contessa’s (Ina Garten) Turkey lasagna but it is a lot of work and worse a lot of cleanup.  So when this slow cooker recipe was posted on Williams-Sonoma website a few years ago I was intrigued.  I own and love the Williams-Sonoma’s All-Clad 7-Qt Deluxe Slow Cooker.  It is so versatile. You can brown anything with the insert on top of the stove, and the insert can go into the oven to finish off a dish like this.  This is a serious advantage when it comes to clean up.
 
 
 
So could a lasagna baked in a crock pot have the taste and texture of a typical oven baked lasagna?  My opinion after making this recipe absolutely yes; however, I am not sure the success would be as good in your typical crockpot that does not have a removable insert that can go in the oven.  You also need an above average slow cooker capacity for this recipe.  I think the final broil step on this dish adds a lot to the texture and appearance of the dish.
 
 
 
Could prep and clean-up really be improved versus a typical lasagna without sacrificing taste?  Again I would say yes.  The dish easily peels out of the slow cooker and you are left with two easy to clean bowls (the temporary dirty bowl and the cheese bowl) and a cutting board if you took the time to add the mushrooms and carrrots.
 
 
 

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed  – I use turkey sausage
  • 2 jars (each 24 oz.) tomato sauce – I typically use Wegman’s or Wholefood’s 360 brand to save time but sometimes I use homemade.
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 lb. whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 18 ruffle-edged lasagna noodles (not no-boil noodles)
  • 1 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • 3 carrots in small diced form (my add in for more nutrition)
  • Small container of your favorite mushrooms, cleaned and chopped in small pieces (my add in for more nutrition)
  • Thinly sliced fresh basil for garnish

Directions:

Prep your carrots and mushrooms if using.

In the stovetop-safe insert of slow cooker over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Saute the carrots and mushrooms if using for about five to seven minutes until soft.  I usually add the carrots first and halfway through add the mushrooms.  When they look close to done but not quite, add the sausage and cook, breaking up any large chunks with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a simmer. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl.

In another bowl, stir together the ricotta, parsley, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of the slow-cooker insert. Cover the sauce with a single layer of uncooked lasagna noodles (about 3), breaking the noodles as needed to fit. The noodles do not need to be perfect.  Spread about 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over the noodles. Top with about 2 cups of the sauce, then sprinkle with about 1 cup of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Repeat the layering 4 more times, starting with the noodles.

Transfer the insert to the slow-cooker base, cover and cook on low according to the manufacturer’s instructions until the noodles are tender and cooked through, about 4 hours (WS recommended time).  My best results have been stopping early at 3 hours 45 minutes to 3 hours 50 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to broil.

Transfer the slow-cooker insert to the oven and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes (Williams-Sonoma recommended time). DO NOT TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PRIZE IN THE BROILER.  FIVE TO SIX MINUTES WILL LIKELY BE PLENTY.  YOU DO NOT WANT TO OVER-BROIL.

Let the lasagna rest for 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil and serve immediately. Serves 12.

This dish says it serves 12, I think it can stretch further.   Freeze leftovers in desired portion sizes.  Defrost overnight and rewarm on 325 until warm throughout – 15-20 mins.
 
 
Suggest serve with homemade garlic bread:
1 good French loaf bread sliced in half (horizontal cut)
 
Dice a few cloves of garlic very tiny or do a quick swirl of whole cloves in a mini food processor- saute them for 2-3 minutes on low heat with oil if you have time.
   Or just buy a jar of already crushed garlic to save time and spoon a teaspoon
 
Melt 8 tablespoons of butter.  Add garlic to butter.
 
Using a pastry brush or pouring – put the butter mixture over the bread.
(Sprinkle some parm cheese on top for a nice touch – optional)
 
Place bread on lined alumimum foil sheet pan.   (I have sometimes prep the bread as much as 2-3 hours in advance and covered with foil.  It can get a little soggy if sitting out much longer than that).
 
Broil on high for about 1 1/2 – 3 minutes.  Do not take your eye off the oven.
These can burn quick.   Nothing like piece of fresh garlic bread to go with this lasagna.
 
 
 
 
 
Recipe Link
 
Slow Cooker Link
I am not being paid in any to recommend this slow cooker.  I have had it for about 5 years.  I use it often and have been incredibly pleased about every feature.

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