Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Southwest Slow-Cooker Lasagna - simple meal for those crazy days...

Instead of garlic bread & parmesan, this ‘lasagna’ would go well with guacamole and a green salad.  With no noodles to boil, this comes together fast - and can be baked either in a conventional oven or a crockpot.  Depending on who you’re feeding - adjust the seasonings up or down as desired.

Lasagna is such a versatile dish, Italians shouldn’t have a corner on that market.  The same elements, but different flavors make up this southwest version, which is a nice change.

When I have company coming - which is the case this weekend - I like to have a few big meals on hand that are semi-prepared and ready to go.  Now that it looks like warmer weather is here (do I dare say that?¡) a crockpot dish sounded like a good idea.  Lately everyone seems to be in the mood for Mexican fare.  

Lasagna is no longer my family’s favorite - after using it as a staple for so many years.  I found several recipes online that all claimed to be a “Taco Lasagna” - but they called for corn tortillas, which I have found easily disintegrates in a moist dish.  Many used rice and beans, but we like those on the side.  

I was surprised at how well this turned out.  Crockpot cookery is tricky because of the moisture issue - so I took care to not overdo the liquid ingredients.  Most recipes that call for cheese and sour cream don’t turn out well because of the long cooking time. 

I decided to limit the cooking time to 3 hours on low so the dairy ingredients didn’t curdle, and it seemed just about right.  Of course, if you are refrigerating this beforehand, reduce the liquid (so it doesn’t get mushy as it stands) and start the crockpot out on high for the first hour.

Another adjustment I would make is to decrease the taco seasoning if you have people with issues over spicy food.  For my own taste, I would use 3 Tbs - but with younger children I would reduce it to 2 Tbs.  If you have fire-breathing dragons coming to dinner - replace the can of diced tomatoes with an equivalent amount of additional salsa.  Conventional baking directions are listed at the bottom of the recipe.

As you can see, it can feed a (hungry) crowd - removing the first serving barely makes a dent.

For the recipe, with step-by-step instructions - go to: