I find it a challenge to get appetizing and nutritious meals on the table every day, especially when there are after school activities requiring me to pick up kids all over town. Add one vegetarian body builder to the mix and it gets that much more difficult. Thank goodness for my slow cookers. I can put together a meal in the morning, turn on the slow cooker and ignore it for several hours. When we get home, dinner is ready. This is exactly what I have been doing for the past month.
Cookbook author Judith Finlayson has provided me with with one solution. Her 2004 book, 125 best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes became my best kitchen friend. This book includes recipes for: Starters, Soups, Casseroles and Stews, Beans and Lentils, Grains and Sides, and Desserts. There is helpful introductory section that talks about how and why slow cookers work. Note, there are over 60 vegan friendly recipes in the book, and many more can be made vegan by omitting the cheese or eggs. I tried seven very different recipes from this collection and have already selected several more.
While actually an appetizer, we used this as a main course. I had to visit a few stores to find suitable artichokes, most stores only had the tiny jars of oil packed ones, but I did find a can that was packed in a water based broth(?, it didn't seem like a brine). I served this on toasted french bread slices as well as a few different types of crackers.
I have been searching for a recipe for these for ages. My sister loves these and buys bags of them locally when ever she comes for a visit. They were very easy to make and tasted wonderful without being overly sweet. I will admit that I didn't have an orange on hand, so had to omit the grated orange rind. There was still orange flavour as you roast the pecans in orange juice prior to dredging in the sugar mixture.
Loved this one. My family practically licked their bowls clean. I did buy a large bag of frozen butternut squash already peeled and diced to save on kitchen time. I added 1/2 of a Scotch Bonnet pepper and found that it added enough 'heat' without being over powering. Serve this with hearty bread and a bit of cheese and it becomes a main dish.
Recipe for this soup follows.
My son had asked for a rice dish but hold the spinach. I should have smashed the pepper corns a bit finer, otherwise I followed the directions exactly. Son ate this three days in a row. He felt that the cheese and brown rice combination gave him the correct amounts of protein and carbs to sustain his gym workouts.
I would say this was the most adventurous dish that I tried. I did have to add one extra cup of broth as it was cooking. It didn't have the same 'creaminess' as a traditionally made risotto. Probably not a repeat for our family, though I liked it, the others didn't come back for more.
You'll want to double this recipe. It was gone so fast that I didn't have a chance to take a picture of it when served on the crusty rolls. Simple and tasty, and you can use either self cooked or canned lentils.
This is my first try at dessert in a crock pot and it won't be my last. I opted to use 5% cream instead of 2% milk. The recipe suggested for a creamier result to use half and half. Instead of cherries, I substituted dried cranberries (also as suggested). I was anxious about this dish. I wanted to stir it, but the recipe said that the pudding would 'set', so I figured no stirring allowed. In the end, the rice settled to the bottom and much of the creaminess set on the top. Due to the high cooking, the sugars caramelized around the edge which made it taste fantastic. I have a little bowl hidden in the fridge for my lunch.
We have already selected another half dozen or so recipes to try from the is book.
Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger root
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp whole coriander seeds, crushed (or 1/2 tsp ground coriander)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1 tbsp packed brown sugar
4 cups acorn or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes, or 4 cups carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 can (14-19 oz) kidney beans, rinsed and drained or 2 cups dried kidney beans, cooked and drained
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, including juice, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 to 1 chili pepper, preferably Scotch Bonnet, finely chopped, you can also use Habanero Pepper.
1 14oz can of coconut milk
Finely chopped parsley or cilantro
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ginger root, chili powder, coriander seeds, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sugar and stir to combine. Add squash or carrots, kidney beans, tomatoes with juice and stock.
Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours, until vegetables are tender.
Add green pepper, chili pepper and coconut milk. Cover and cook on high for another 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with parsley or cilantro if using.
Excerpted from 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson © 2004 Robert Rose Inc. http://www.robertrose.ca/ Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
I bought this book for my son last year when he first decided to become a vegetarian. It's a shame that it sat un-used on the shelf for so long as we have missed out on lots of tasty meals.
Beth Fish Reads for a new edition of Weekend Cooking. There you will find links to all sorts of food related posts. You are invited to add your own current link and share your foodie inner self.