A hearty lasagna can be more than just a savory pasta meal. In the case of Tasting Table recipe developer Miriam Hahn's crockpot vegetable lasagna, the dish is both delectable and packed with nutrients. Hahn incorporates roasted red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and zucchini to create a nutrient-packed lasagna that is delicious and simple to assemble. But, like most crockpot dishes, adding enough moisture is key for the cooking process. While water is commonly added to crockpot meals to serve as the primary cooking liquid, Hahn elects to do something different with her recipe.
Instead of using just sauce, Hahn opts to use a jar of sauce and a can of crushed tomatoes. "The reason I'm using a can of crushed tomatoes along with a jar of sauce is the crushed tomatoes have a high amount of water that we need for this slow cooker method and using this will add more substance than plain water," says Hahn. "Also, one jar of sauce is not quite enough ... using a small can eliminates ending up with half a jar of sauce to go to waste."
The crushed tomatoes relinquish their moisture while they cook down, in addition to releasing their natural sweetness and bright flavor. Plus, by opting to use crushed tomatoes, Hahn cleverly avoids a watery sauce that could dilute the flavor of the dish. This method results in a more flavorful and aromatic lasagna, and, as a bonus, prevents you from ending up with half-empty jars.
Read more: 13 Unexpected Ingredients To Elevate Lasagna
Other Ways To Keep Lasagna From Becoming Watery
A crucial step for Miriam Hahn's recipe is sautèing the lasagna's vegetable medley before adding it to the crockpot. In most slow cooker recipes, you'd see these vegetables added to the crockpot in their raw form and they would then cook alongside everything else. By choosing to sautè the vegetables before adding them to the crockpot, Hahn can cook out some of their natural moisture so it won't be released back into the lasagna. Instead, the excess water in the vegetables will evaporate or be left behind in the pan they're sautèed in.
Another benefit of sautèing vegetables is that they will impart a richer vegetal flavor to your dish. A quick sautè can help mellow some of the more intense flavors like the onion and garlic, and add flavor to milder components such as the mushrooms and zucchini. Plus, sautèing activates the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that occurs between sugars and amino acids when they are exposed to high heat. This creates a caramelized effect on the vegetables and makes whatever is being cooked more aromatic and appetizing. By developing these flavors before adding them to the crockpot, you save yourself from the worry of bland vegetables in your lasagna.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.