January 6, 2011

Spicy Sausage Slow-Cooker Lasagna for Project Sam {Webisode #54}

What’s Going on Today: Gearing up to get back in the swing of things with school, work and life!

Naptime Goals: Finish putting away Christmas decorations, make slow-cooker lasagna, test some book recipes.

Tonight’s Menu: Spicy Sausage Lasagna, Arugula salad

Parenting Lesson of the Day: Children need their routines, too.

My friend Sam is the manager of the JMcLaughlin Westport store. She is also the mom of two girls under the age of four and is a total foodie. Sam and I spent a lot of time meeting last fall about the exciting things for the JMcLaughlin Westport launch and every conversation we had led to cooking. Sam’s mom is an excellent home cook and Sam wants to replicate those meals in her own home. The only problem is that she lacks the time to cook a lot given her very full-time job. In hopes of cooking more Sam treated herself to a slow-cooker this winter. It is a great solution for working parents and she is excited to start using it. Once I heard about this I, naturally, jumped in with a few recipe ideas and Project Sam was born. This winter I’ll be testing new slow-cooker recipes for Sam (I put everything together while my daughter is at school) and then sending them off to her. It will be fun to revisit some of my favorites and develop new ones as well. Sam and I are both excited for the project to begin.

Knowing that Sam has two daughters around the age of my own, I asked my own daughter what recipe she would like me to make, reasoning Sam’s daughters would feel the same way, and she voted for “noodle lasagna.” At first I hesitated, I wanted give Sam something really gourmet, but then I realized the lasagna can be gourmet. It is also perfect for cold weather and is a great first dish for breaking in her slow-cooker. To give mine a delicious twist I used spicy sausages I got from my local organic butcher. He always makes sausages fresh with amazing ingredients. These particular ones had cheese, spinach and sweet spices. I also used crushed tomatoes instead of jarred spaghetti sauce and seasoned it well. I much prefer the taste of canned tomatoes in winter then most off-the-shelf spaghetti sauces.

As you’ll see above, my daughter went down for an early nap on a particularly gloomy day and I assembled the lasagna in the slow-cooker. The beauty of this process is that there is no need to cook the noodles, that all happens in the machine! I turned it on around 2pm and left it to cook on low heat all afternoon. Sam could assemble the lasagna in the morning, or the night before, and set the timer to turn on at 2pm. To say the aroma in the kitchen was amazing is an understatement. I never grew up with an Italian grandmother, but if I had this is what her house would’ve smelled like. Around 6pm I lifted the lid and breathed deep. The lasagna was perfectly cooked and even more delicious to eat. I am sending this recipe off to Sam today, let’s hope she reports back that her family enjoys it as much as we did.

Slow Cooker Lasagna


Spicy Sausages Slow-Cooker Lasagna


1 pound spicy sausages, casings removed
1 small yellow onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
28 ounces crushed tomatoes with juices
15 ounces part-skim ricotta
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese
12 lasagna noodles

Kosher salt & pepper to taste


1. In a large saute pan over medium heat add the olive oil, onion and sausage. Cook over medium heat until the onions are cooked through and the meat is no longer pink. About 10 minutes. Then pour in the crushed tomatoes and allow them to simmer until the mixture is slightly thickened.

2. Meanwhile, mix together the ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan in a large bowl and add a few pinches of salt and pepper to taste.

3. When the sausage mixture is slightly thickened place one quarter of it on the bottom of the slow-cooker. Then place about 2 to 3 noodles on the bottom, breaking them as needed to fit the shape of the slow-cooker pot. Top this with one half of the cheese mixture and one quarter of the sausage mixture. Then add more noodles and another layer of cheese and sausage. Finally, top with another layer of noodles and pour the remaining one quarter of the tomato mixture on top of the noodles. Turn the slow-cooker to low heat and cook for 4 to 6 hours, or until the noodles are completely cooked.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

A classic pasta dish like this pairs well with garlic bread and salad. I often scoop out the lasagna to serve and place anything remaining straight in the fridge in the crock pot dish until the next day.

Naptime Stopwatch

25 minutes to prepare!

Naptime Reviews

This was a hit with our family, it is a foodie dish that is kid-friendly!