Actually Easy Slow Cooker Lasagna

Kitchen Shit You’ll Need:

  • A sharp knife, preferably a chef’s knife, for chopping them veggies.
  • A cutting board
  • A 6-quart slow cooker (Hamilton Beach makes a dope one with a latching lid and an easy-to-use timer.)
  • A big-ass pan (Protip: When recipes written by people other than me call for a “medium” pan or bowl, they really mean “the biggest-ass pan or bowl you have, and actually, maybe go out to the store and get something one size bigger than that.” I don’t know why recipe writers do this — are they secret assholes? — but the number of times I’ve had to dirty an extra dish because I believed some recipe writer, I swear to God… personally, I use a wok for this shit.)
  • A big-ass mixing bowl
  • Some spatulas and big wooden spoons and shit

Ingredients:

  • Small to medium eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Small to medium onion (I like yellow onions, but white will work fine and red will be a little weird but not bad. You can use half a big one if you want; put the other half in a Zip-lock baggie in the very back of the fridge and try to find a use for it in the next week or two if you can.)
  • 3–4 cloves fresh garlic (1 tsp powdered if that’s all you got, but seriously, put some fresh garlic on your shopping list, it’s cheap, it keeps longer than you think, and it makes all kinds of things better.)
  • 8-oz tub sliced mushrooms (You can used canned if you gotta; it’s almost as good as fresh.)
  • 24-oz jar of pasta sauce (I like vodka sauce; roasted red pepper is good too. Tom Thumb / Safeway and Trader Joe’s both have good, reasonably-priced store brands. A 6–8oz can of tomato paste is good to make this go a little farther if you have it on hand, which I try to at any given time. For extra credit, make your own bolognese sauce https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5WR-K0zJYs)
  • 30-oz tub ricotta cheese
  • 12 oz of shredded Monterrey jack cheese (Get a block of the stuff and grate it yourself; the pre-grated stuff has this anti-caking dust on the shreds that messes with the texture.)
  • 8–10 oz box of “oven-ready” or “no-boil” lasagna noodles (You can use the kind that need boiling if you want, but if you do, you’re on your own, Mr. Fancy Pants.)
  • Two medium to large zucchini squashes
  • shredded Parmesan and/or Romano cheese (You can use the dried shit that comes in the shakey can if that’s what you’ve got, but grate it yourself for best results)
  • Fresh spinach leaves (Optional, but this is a great way to get some extra greens into your diet. Canned work too, but not quite as well.)
  • Some dope spices. (I tend to use pre-made Italian spice blends that come in a jar with a little built-in grinder. Trader Joe’s South African Smoke blend is real good too. Failing that, use whatever italian-style spices you have on hand. Oregano, rosemary, parsley, basil, green shit like that.)

How to Actually Cook It:

  1. Slice the eggplant into ½” rounds.
  2. Brown the eggplant rounds in a pan on medium heat with a little olive oil. Set them aside.
  3. Chop up the onion / garlic / mushrooms. Brown them in the same pan on high heat. Add some more oil if it needs it. Stir constantly until all the water cooks off and it’s sizzling in just the oil.
  4. Dump pasta sauce on top of veggies and heat on medium until it bubbles. Toss a few big handfuls of fresh spinach leaves up in it and stir them in as they wilt from the heat.
  5. Put a bunch of spices in it. Use a lot. Like, more than you think you need. A lot of it, especially the powdered shit, will cook off depending on how long you cook it, and anyway, I’ve never once eaten a bite of this and said, “Shit, I put in too much spices.” If you like some heat, you can toss in some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce or whatever.
  6. In a large bowl, mix the ricotta and Monterrey jack. You will think you have way too much Monterrey jack, but just keep mixing, it will all mix in.
  7. Pour just enough of the sauce mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker to cover it.
  8. Add a layer of noodles, then eggplant, then ricotta, then sauce. Repeat 2–3 more times. Save a lot of sauce for the final layer, to make sure that all the noodles are covered in sauce.
  9. Slice the zucchini squash into ¼” rounds. Arrange them on top of the lasagna.
  10. Sprinkle the top of the lasagna heavily with parmesan and romano.
  11. Cook on Low for 6 hours or High for 3. (Protip: Low is almost always better than High if you have the option. If you have a programmable slow cooker, make sure to use the timer function so that it stops at the right time. If you overcook this, your lasagna noodles will discombobulate and become a starchy paste, and nobody wants that.)

If you’re cooking for fewer than about six people, you will have leftovers. This is good. You’ve now made your lunch for the next few days. Put the whole damn slow cooker in the fridge. Boom, done. If you have any left after a week, transfer it to Tupperware and stick it in the freezer until you’re not sick of it any more, then leave it in the fridge overnight to dethaw before reheating.

This makes dope leftovers. Spoon it into a bowl, cover the bowl with a MOIST paper towel, and microwave for 1.5 to 2 minutes. The paper towel will keep the noodles from drying out and getting crispy and protect your microwave from spatters.

Variations:

  • If you want to make this into a comfort food of the sort reserved for grieving friends, use real butter instead of the oil, a white sauce such as an alfredo for the pasta sauce and stir a tub of plain cream cheese in with the ricotta.
  • If you want some meat up in your lasagna, you can use a pound of Italian sausage and drop the eggplant. Brown it with the veggies. Don’t overbrown; you should still see some pink when you toss the sauce on top. It will finish cooking in the slow cooker. You can also leave in the eggplant, but if you do, use about ¾ pound sausage and the smallest eggplant you can find, and scale all the other proportions down a little so you don’t overfill your slow cooker. If you use any other kind of ground meat like beef or especially turkey, spice the shit out of it in the browning pan. Use some Lawry’s seasoning salt if you got it.

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