I must make a confession prior to starting in about this dish. I had never made a crockpot meal prior to this. Yes, I am 32. Why you may ask? because I am paranoid. The thought of turning something on for hours on end while I am not at home scares me. It could catch my house on fire and I wouldn't be there. I don't care overly much about my material things. I can purchase replacements for all except pictures. But I do care deeply about my cats and dogs and would never forgive myself if they got lost, hurt or died because I needed to cook while not at home.
So, I never did it. But now that we cook at 7 pm anyway, I figured I could start it before bed and wake up to a good meal. There are some issues with this thought process. For starters most recipes don't cook for the entire time I want to sleep so I need to set the alarm and get up (or make the hubs get up which happens way more frequently) to turn it off in the middle of night. And also then the entire house smells like food all night which drives the dogs nuts, makes me have funny dreams and become extremely hungry and sometimes keeps W up too.
But...lets get into the dish shall we?
This dish made the cut because it has spinach (which I believe is a real vegetable and not something masquerading as a vegetable like a legume), sauce and can be made overnight-ish. I found it on Pinterest.
It turns out it is super simple to make. Mix up the spinach, cheese and such and use Ragu spaghetti sauce. Put some sauce on the bottom, raw noodles, cheese, repeat, cover and forget about it for a while. Or for a super long time if you are me. See, I thought it was impossible to burn anything in a crockpot. It works by some magical method anyway, so how could anything burn? Seriously, though...I really thought you couldn't burn things in it. I figured out pretty quickly that if you go about your day, head to the barn to ride and then come back hours after it should have been turned off...it can burn. The edges turned out a bit black and crispy, but all in all it was still edible.
- W loved it because it tastes like spaghetti o's - two baby thumbs up
- Easy way to get loads of spinach into a kid because even though it is in there, you can't taste it around all the ricotta
- Super easy to assemble and put into the pot and minimal clean up
- I thought the noodles were a bit too gummy. I like my noodles to be a bit firmer and slightly undercooked and this was definitely over cooked. That may have had to do with the extra 2 hours it sat on low though.
- Tasted a bit like spaghetti o's. Which is probably why W liked it so much (not that he has even had the o's before) but for adult flavor it was lacking some oompf.
- MSG - need to figure out a work around on this ingredient
It went over well enough that it made it onto the syndication list on the side of the fridge. It will be made once a month or so and I like knowing that W is getting his spinach in a nice and no fuss way.
Tips and Pearls:
- Don't leave it on past the time frame...duh :)
- I am switching regular lasagna noodles out for whole grain ones. Reading the box it really doesn't seem like it makes a big difference, but any little bit helps
- I'm not so sure why it needs the Lipton Veggie Soup Mix. First of all, we couldn't even find it at the store and we went to both Walmart, who has everything, and a local grocery store. We found something similar and bought that, but then read the ingredients and it has MSG in it. It calls for a large amount of the stuff too, but I only put in half as much. I think I would just leave it out altogether in the future. I didn't taste it in there anyway.
I would recommend giving it a try if you want to hide some veggies from your picky eater or if you just want to try something a bit different. If you are a creative cooker, this could use some spicing up with basil/oregano/garlic and the like to make it more adult in flavor and less like spaghetti o's, but if you have kids I'd leave it like it is.
- 2 containers (15 oz. ea.) ricotta cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1 box (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 envelope Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Vegetable Soup Mix (has the MSG in it!!)
- 2 jars (1 lb. 8 oz. ea.) Ragu® Old World Style® Pasta Sauce
- 12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
- Combine ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan, eggs, spinach and Lipton® Recipe Secrets® Vegetable Soup Mix in medium bowl; set aside.
- Spread 1 cup Pasta Sauce in 6-quart slow cooker. Layer in 4 lasagna noodles, broken to fit, then 1 cup Pasta Sauce and 1/2 of the ricotta mixture; repeat. Top with remaining 4 lasagna noodles and 2 cups Pasta Sauce. Reserve remaining Pasta Sauce. Cook covered on LOW 5 to 6 hours.
- Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining Pasta sauce