Easy Peasy Crockpot Upside Down Lasagna Recipe
A while ago, I made a lasagna the hard way. I chopped my own onions and red, yellow and green peppers, then made my own meat sauce from scratch by defrosting fresh Italian sausage made by my little local butcher shop, taking the “socks” off the sausage and chopping it up to fry, adding chopped up hamburger and those veggies after I knew the sausage was done and frying it all until the hamburger, too, was well done, then mixing it with my own tomato sauce made from scratch and cooking a bit more.
I then stacked the meat sauce with cooked lasagna noodles, ricotta and three other varieties of cheese—8 layers high, and put it in the oven for an hour or maybe more, until it seemed “done.” Instead of serving it immediately, I then put it in the fridge and reheated it thoroughly the next day in the oven, because I’ve always thought lasagna tasted better warmed up so why not do that from the get-go? I must admit, it was delicious, but I had spent an entire late morning/early afternoon making it.
A few days after polishing off that lasagna, having donated some of it to a bachelor friend across the street, I saw the leftover cooked lasagna noodles I hadn’t used, lonely in a plastic bag on my fridge shelf. They were somewhat bent over and stuck together but looked like enough for another small lasagna. “Waste not want not” was my Grandma’s creed and actually that of my folks, too, after the depression, so it seemed like those lasagna noodles called out to me to be used as the base of yet another lasagna, and the other had been so good that I thought I could probably eat lasagna for another week or so, but I certainly didn’t have three hours to spend on it.
Nevertheless, when I had to make a trip to town for other purposes, I happened to be right next to my local favorite butcher shop so , as you’ve probably guessed by the title of this blog, I bought another kilo of hamburger! When I got home, I had an hour or so to spare before I had to leave to go elsewhere, but I wanted to get the lasagna started at least, so I decided to try an experiment. I had a few chopped peppers left which I cooked on the stovetop along with half of the hamburger and onions I quickly chopped in my Vidalia veggie chopper. (Look online. I love mine, provided due to a big hint on my part last year as a birthday present from my sister.)
When the meat was done and well chopped up, I added bottled spaghetti sauce provided by Mr. Paul Newman. This time I had cooked the meat mixture on my stove in my crockpot, which is rectangular in shape and sits on a base which is the part that heats up. (Mine is at least forty years old but they still make a version of it so when I broke the lid of the original and was unable to find a replacement, I bought a spare entire crock pot and find I use both of them all the time.)
When the hamburger was browned, I put the pot that the meat/veggie/sauce mixture was in onto its crockpot base, sprinkled a frozen three-cheese grated cheese mixture over the meat, took the cold leftover cooked lasagna noodles and spread each with a thin layer of ricotta and laid them over the top–not very evenly as they were all stuck together–with the ricotta side down. I then spread a bit of canned tomato sauce over the top, sprinkled a tiny bit of cheddar onto it and put the lid on the crockpot, set to medium. I let it cook for a few hours.
The meat and veggies had been thoroughly cooked before going into the crockpot, but the noodles and tomato sauce were cold and the grated cheese frozen when I put them in the pot, so cooking it again was essentially replicating the cooked-twice labor-intensive lasagna I’d made a week or more before. When it looked done, I put it in the fridge and ignored it for a day. The next day I had a piece cold, since I prefer leftover pizza or lasagna that way, but it could be sliced and heated up in microwave as well. It was just as good as the 8 layer lasagna I’d slaved over a few days ago, and the purchased spaghetti sauce made by Mr. Newman (R.I.P, blue-eyes) was just as good as the homemade sauce I’d made for my earlier lasagna.
So, the lesson learned from this? I’m seventy years old. It’s okay to do things the easy way. The lesson you should learn from it? Check out that Vidalia veggie chopper. It is amazing. It dices onions or any other semi-soft sliced veggie like potatoes, eggplant or peppers in 1/2 inch to 1/4 inch squares and is easy to use and easy to clean up afterwards, as it comes with its own little plastic rake to get the crushed veggies out from the ridges in the press plate. I’ve never tried mine on carrots, but imagine they might be a bit too dense for the chopper to handle. Certainly, they’d have to be sliced thinly first.
Click on first photo to enlarge all and read captions.
These West Bend rectangular crock pots can be removed from their bases to serve extra duty on the stovetop. The base can also be used as a small griddle or warming tray and the newer one came with its own insulated carrying bag to make it easy to carry along to pot lucks.
Click on first photo to enlarge all photos and read captions. The photo of the lasagna, by the way, is not of the labor-intensive lasagna but of my 1/2 hour special Easy Peasy Crockpot Upside Down Lasagna!!
So, that’s it. Judy’s Easy Peasy Crockpot Upside Down Lasagna. (Contrary to appearances, I am not a rep for either Vidalia Chop Wizards or West Bend.) I just use them almost every time I cook, so I’m passing on the info.
Dicing is just one step beyond julienne, correct? So I’m overachieving and including this in the julienne prompt at Rag Tag Daily Prompt.
Smorgasbord is the prompt today for Ragtag Daily Prompt today.