By Wendy Ruopp, Managing Editor ofEatingWell
When the weather is still warm, who wants to make dinner in a hot oven? Still, sometimes I get a hankering for lasagna, no matter what the temperature is outside. I just want it to magically appear for dinner, without all the boiling and baking usually required.
Poof! The EatingWell Test Kitchen has granted my wish by creating this vegetarian lasagna recipe I can make in my slow cooker (recipe below). No hot oven! I don’t even have to boil the noodles. Summertime and the layering is easy.
I’m always happy to load up on fresh vegetables at this time of year, and with all the portobello mushrooms, zucchini and garlic in this recipe there’s so much flavor I don’t miss the meat. To round out the healthful deliciousness, whole-wheat noodles and part-skim ricotta add fiber and cut back on fat. Make Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna for dinner tonight and you can still enjoy the summer weather or even begin planning for back to school (sorry, I can’t make that magically disappear).
Looking for more ways to use your slow cooker for vegetarian meals? Check out EatingWell’s collection of Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes.
Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna
Makes: 8 servings
Active time: 30 minutes | Slow-cooker time: 2 hours on High or 4 hours on Low
Equipment: 6-quart (or larger) slow cooker
Sure, the slow cooker’s great for stews and soups, but it also happens to make a mean lasagna! In this ingenious slow-cooker recipe, all you have to do is chop your veggies, then layer the ingredients (raw) into the crock pot.
Serve with: Garlic bread and a green salad.
1 large egg
1 15- to 16-ounce container part-skim ricotta
1 5-ounce package baby spinach, coarsely chopped
3 large or 4 small portobello mushroom caps, gills removed (see Tip), halved and thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
15 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (about 12 ounces), uncooked
3 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided
1. Combine egg, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and zucchini in a large bowl.
2. Combine crushed and diced tomatoes and their juice, garlic and crushed red pepper (if using) in a medium bowl.
3. Generously coat a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread 1 1/2 cups of the tomato mixture in the slow cooker. Arrange 5 noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly and breaking into pieces to cover as much of the sauce as possible. Spread half of the ricotta-vegetable mixture over the noodles and firmly pat down, then spoon on 1 1/2 cups sauce and sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella. Repeat the layering one more time, starting with noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles. Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles. Set aside the remaining 1 cup mozzarella in the refrigerator.
4. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on High for 2 hours or on Low for 4 hours. Turn off the slow cooker, sprinkle the reserved mozzarella on the lasagna, cover and let stand for 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
Per serving: 414 calories; 14 g fat (8 g sat, 4 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 48 g carbohydrate; 0 g added sugars; 28 g protein; 7 g fiber; 641 mg sodium; 829 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Calcium & Vitamin A (56% daily value), Vitamin C (39% dv), Iron & Magnesium (26% dv), Zinc (25% dv), Potassium (24% dv), Folate (18% dv).
Tip: The dark gills found on the underside of a portobello mushroom cap are edible, but can turn a dish an unappealing gray color. If you like, gently scrape the gills off with a spoon.
What’s your favorite recipe for beating the heat?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.