Saturday, June 4, 2011

Very Veggie Slow Cooker Lasagna

This recipe is a very good example of what I was referring to in my welcome post when I said that many of my "recipes" will be more like "suggestions." There are many ways to change this one up and to cut costs on certain ingredients if you wish to. We don't care for meat in our lasagna, so mine's loaded with vegetables, usually whatever I find on sale for the week along with a few usual staples. You could certainly add ground chicken/beef/turkey/pork, Italian sausage or even pepperoni. Because we limit our dairy intake, and because I try to keep this a somewhat healthful recipe, the only cheese I use in it is a fairly modest amount of organic mozzarella, but you can up the cheese and even add cottage cheese or ricotta to your layers too. I used organic spaghetti sauce today, you can use a homemade sauce, non-organic, etc. I don't like my lasagna too "saucy", but you can adjust the amount if you like more. I have a hard time finding organic lasagna, but I use a good whole wheat brand. If you have issues with gluten/wheat, you can use a brown rice or quinoa lasagna. Even if you decide to use meat (browned and drained first), tons of cheese and no vegetables, and/or a different variety of lasagna, the process is still the same.

This recipe is also easy to divide or multiply--just figure approximately 2 cups of vegetables per layer (if you're going with this Very Veggie version), and adjust the amounts of your sauce and water as necessary. If you are only cooking for a few, it freezes very well for future supper or quick lunches.

I serve it with a mixed greens salad dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar and sprinkled generously with fresh cracked black pepper and sparingly with Kosher salt. Despite not being your typical lasagna that's dripping with cheese and stuffed with meat, my kids eat it up, and my husband declares it "Filling. Stick-to-your-ribs filling." So there you go!

As I have covered previously, whole wheat pasta is a good source of fiber and protein. We all know that we should choose whole grains over their white/bleached/overly-processed counterparts. Of course the nutrients will vary depending on the vegetables you use--I used red bell pepper, carrots, spinach, broccoli and mushrooms. Red bell peppers are great sources of Vitamin C and also contain fair amounts of many other vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin B-6 and folate. Spinach is a good source of Vitamin A and also contains other nutrients such as Vitamin C, calcium and iron. Broccoli is a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and folate, and it contains fair amounts of calcium, iron and Vitamin B-6. Carrots have high amounts of Vitamin A and fair amounts of calcium, folate, Vitamin C and Vitamin B-6. And let's not forget the protein and calcium in the cheese. The nutritional benefits you reap from the aforementioned foods of course depends on your serving size.

Very Veggie Slow Cooker Lasagna

1 box lasagna
1 jar spaghetti sauce or equivalent amount of homemade sauce
6 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup water
1 small-medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups additional vegetables, chopped, such as spinach (make sure you pack it when measuring), carrots (sliced thin), bell pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow/summer squash, eggplant, black olives, etc.

Step 1: Mix water, sauce, garlic, onion and vegetables in a large bowl and place 1/3 of the mixture into the bottom of your slow cooker. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the mozzarella. Depending on the size and shape of your slow cooker, you may have to break up some or all of your lasagna to get complete coverage. Place lasagna in a single layer, covering vegetable/sauce layer completely. Repeat with 1/3 of vegetable/sauce mixture, 1/3 of mozzarella and another layer of noodles. Top with remaining 1/3 of vegetable/sauce mixture and reserve the remaining 1/3 of the mozzarella.

Step 2: Cover and cook on low for about 5-6 hours, until lasagna (the pasta) is tender. If you have to leave it a bit longer or set it to switch to a warm setting after the initial cooking period, it should fare just fine, your noodles may just get extra soft.

Step 3: Before serving, sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the mozzarella over the top and put the cover back on for just a few minutes, until cheese melts.


Whole wheat lasagna noodles: $2.39
Organic Mozzarella:$3.99/8 oz package, used 6 oz (3/4) = $2.99
Organic spaghetti sauce: $2.79
Organic baby spinach: $2.88/container, used 1/2 = $1.44
Mushrooms (white button): $1.76/8 oz package, used half = $.88
Red bell pepper = $.99
Organic carrots: $.98/1-lb bag, 4 carrots is 2/5 of bag = $.39
Broccoli: $2.98/lb for washed & cut broccoli, .5 lb bag = $1.49

Total Cost: $13.36
Six servings: $2.23 per serving
Eight servings: $1.67 per serving

No comments:

Post a Comment