I’ve always had my dreams about crock pot lasagna. In the oven it seemed like I would always have problems. The noodles would be mushy towards the middle, overcooked, where the outside noodles would be so stiff that they would curl upwards and you had to trash them. There were always a couple of things stopping me from the crock pot method, though. A) finding a decent meat substitute that I truthfully enjoyed and B) the notorious watery mess on the bottom of the dish, and how I could get rid of it. Well, tremendous things happened recently. I found an awesome substitute that tastes completely legit and actually felt confident that it wouldn’t ruin the whole dish with an ‘off ‘ flavor that sometimes happens with artificial beef. While also I thought up a way to balance the ingredients so the bottom wouldn’t get flooded. Luckily, it all worked out and was the best lasagna I have ever had. I’ll never make it in the oven again. Enjoy ~
Ingredients Needed (for a 7 QT crock pot) :
- 3 full jars [24oz] of your favorite marinara sauce
- 1 1/2 bags (roughly 1LB) of Gardein Meatless Meatballs
- 8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 TBSP tomato paste
- garlic powder, salt, pepper and onion powder to your taste
- 1 large eggplant, sliced thinly and sweat for at least 30 minutes
- 1 cup of tofu feta (simple recipe below)
- 12 oz. dry lasagna noodles
- fresh spinach leaves, NOT frozen (frozen holds extra water)
- 1/2 cup soy mozzarella cheese of your choice for topping
To Make :
First you have to prepare a few ingredients, so we’ll start with the eggplant sweating. Super simple :
Eggplant sweating? This is crucial to the texture of the lasagna. Sweating the eggplant beforehand means that all of the extra water will not be added to your lasagna, which is key for a perfect lasagna, plus there’s nothing hard about it.
EGGPLANT SWEATING :
Slice the ends off of your eggplant and cut in half length-wise. Cut into thin strips and lay them out on a cutting board or flat surface in one layer. Sprinkle salt over the slices of the eggplant until fully coated and let sit for 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. The salt will draw out the water. Once done, rinse the eggplant under cold water and press dry. Set aside.
Now on to the tofu feta :
TOFU FETA :
- 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp. garlic salt
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
Drain and press your tofu until it’s crumbly and mostly dry. Crumble into a bowl and mix with other ingredients until it resembles feta cheese. Set aside.
PREPARING THE LASAGNA :
Start by defrosting the meatballs. I just put mine in a pot with a lid with about 1/2 cup of marinara sauce stirred in. Let the steam build up and they start to defrost. You can also do this in the microwave. Once defrosted, mash with a potato masher or fork until well crumbled. Set aside for now.
Slice and chop the onions, garlic and mushrooms and add them to a large, medium heated pan with the olive oil. Season with the listed seasonings and let cook until the onion is translucent and fragrant. Add in the tomato paste and defrosted meatballs. Stir and mix until well incorporated. Turn off heat and set aside.
Once the eggplant is done sweating, washed and dried you can begin assembling the lasagna.
TO ASSEMBLE :
Start with pouring enough marinara sauce in to just cover the bottom of your crock pot. Break the lasagna noodles in half and press into the sauce in a single, even layer. Add more sauce on top to lightly cover the noodles. Add an even, thin layer of meatball mixture and add an even later of eggplant. Add noodles, topped with more sauce to cover, add tofu feta and a handful of spinach leaves. Add a layer of meatball. Add noodles, sauce to cover and eggplant. Continue the layers but make sure to reserve enough sauce for the top at the end. When you run out of ingredients top it off with a layer of noodles, pour over remaining sauce, sprinkle on the soy cheese and spinach leaves. Let cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.
In the end you should end up with something along these lines :
Enjoy with some garlic bread, or a nice side salad.