21.02.2019
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01.02.2019

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Delicious, two-phase lasagna in the slow cooker. Deeply flavourful meat sauce, sheets of lasagna cooked to perfection, béchamel sauce and lots of gooey cheese. If you’ve ever felt a bit daunted by this dish, the slow cooker is the way to cook it.

So, after my latest big news I thought it was high time I started posting more slow cooker recipes again! A deliciously comforting lasagna might be a good place to start, no?

Slow Cooker Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Béchamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A side view of two pieces of lasagna, one of them with a bit of melted cheese oozing down the side. In front of the plates is a blue denim style napkin.

If you follow slow cooker blogs you probably already know you can cook lasagna (or lasagne, depending on the country you are in) easily in the slow cooker. There are numerous recipes out there. But have you tried it? Maybe you’ve thought about it but never got round to doing it? Well, no more excuses. Here’s a post to take you through it, broken into two phases. The first is the recipe for the sauce, which is based on an old one from here on the blog, and the second is the béchamel and final lasagna dish.

Slow Cooker Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Béchamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: An overhead view of the whole lasagna in the slow cooker insert. The top is covered in melted cheese plus some extra grated cheese, and the pot is sitting on a denim napkin.

So to begin with, make the meat sauce. Keep in mind you will be using half the prepared amount for the lasagna. Keep the rest (about 3-4 portions) and freeze it, then warm it up for a lazy dinner on a night when you can only face boiling some pasta and nothing much more. For phase two, make the béchamel, a nice thick one, and assemble the final dish. Then cook for a couple more hours and you have yourself a delicious, moist, perfectly cooked lasagna.

Slow Cooker Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Béchamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A side view of a piece of lasagna, the layers clearly visible with meat sauce and béchamel in between.

Why would you choose to cook it this way? Well, it’s true that once the meat sauce and béchamel are ready, you could just build your dish and pop it in the oven. The main reason the slow cooker is a good idea is that you don’t have to worry about the pasta sheets drying out. A good lasagna has just the right amount of liquid to cook the pasta, but doesn’t turn into a soup when served. The slow cooker keeps the moisture in the pot so there is no worry that anything will dry out! Also, there is no question that the meat sauce is better cooked this way, so since you’ve already used the insert and got it dirty, why use a baking dish as well? Not to mention the cost of running the oven for the 45 minutes needed to cook lasagna. My final argument is that if you’re a beginner cook (or a beginner at this particular dish), you can create a very impressive result with less chance of failure. And who doesn’t want to impress with their cooking skills?!

Oh, I just thought of another reason. The slow cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen. So this way, we can enjoy a delicious lasagna dinner even in summer time!

Slow Cooker Lasagna with Meat Sauce and Béchamel www.thefoodiecorner.gr Photo description: A side view of two pieces of lasagna, one of them with a bit of melted cheese oozing down the side. The food is on ceramic plates sitting on a wooden surface, a dark background behind them.

Let’s have a look at the details.

Ingredients

Phase 1 - Meat sauce

2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
750 gr beef, minced (ground) – make sure it’s not too lean
3 Tbs white wine vinegar
480 ml (2 cups) passata (thick juice made of crushed, strained, raw tomatoes)
1 x 400 gr tin of tomatoes, diced, with juices (no added salt)
180 ml water (use it to rinse out the tin from the tomatoes)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly cracked
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 bay leaf

Phase 2 – Béchamel and lasagna
80 gr gruyere cheese, grated (I used the Greek Amfilohia variety)
80 gr kasseri cheese, grated (you could also use cheddar)
50 gr butter
50 gr flour
500 ml milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper, freshly ground
1 egg
8-12 lasagne sheets, dried (size depends on brand – you’ll need 2-3 per layer)

Step 1

To make the meat sauce: Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and gently cook the onion until soft and translucent. Transfer it to the slow cooker pot. Turn the heat to high, add the minced meat to the frying pan and stir well to break it up. Cook until no pink is visible and the pan is fairly dry, then add the vinegar. Let it bubble and when almost all the liquid has evaporated, tip everything into the slow cooker.

Step 2

Add the passata, tinned tomatoes, water, spices, salt, pepper, sugar and bay leaf. Cook on low for about 7-8 hours. The sauce should be quite runny, this is a good thing for lasagna. Measure out 700 ml of the sauce and transfer it to a separate container. Freeze the rest for later use. No need to wash the pot.

Step 3

Mix the cheeses together and set aside 30 grams of the mixture.

Step 4

To make the béchamel: In a medium-sized saucepan melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour and stir well with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a golden paste (about a minute or two). Switch to a whisk, then gently pour half the milk into the saucepan while whisking very quickly and continuously to avoid clumps. When your mixture is smooth, add the rest of the milk and continue to stir until it heats up and starts to thicken. Switch back to the wooden spoon when you are certain you don’t have any lumps. When the white sauce is thick (you’ll be able to see the bottom of the pan when stirring), remove from the heat, add the salt, white pepper and 30 gr of cheese. Stir well and then add the egg while stirring vigorously.

Step 5

To assemble the lasagna: Spread a little bit of béchamel over the bottom of the slow cooker pot (only a couple of tablespoons). Then start layering the ingredients in the pot. Start with lasagna sheets, broken up to fit in one layer. Then spread some meat sauce over the top. Spread a layer of béchamel on top (or dollop it here and there), sprinkle with cheese, and repeat the layers until you’ve used everything. Make sure to finish with béchamel and cheese on top. You should have 3-4 layers.

Step 6

Cook on high for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours or until the pasta is cooked, the cheese on top is all melted and the dish looks set (this will depend on how warm the sauces were when used). Let the lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Note
The lasagna in the photos had been sitting for quite a while, so the pieces are firmer. When freshly cooked, lasagna is much “sloppier”, that’s why we let it rest. Same applies if cooked in the oven of course.

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