I admit that I didn’t give my Crock-Pot® much thought until a few years ago when I noticed a resurgent interest in the new and improved slow cookers. Here are some tips for making the most of vegan Crock-Pot® Recipes (as well as those made in other slow-cookers).
As a vegan, had dismissed the appliance as something I could live without. Then, one day, a friend told me about all the fabulous vegan dishes she was making in her new slow cooker. She went on about the intoxicating fragrances that welcomed her each night as she came home from work. Image at top courtesy of OhMyVeggies.
From the first pot of soup I made in the new cooker, I was hooked. The reason transcends the mere convenience. I was compelled by something more basic and primal — it hearkens back to the old iron pot on the hearth of our ancestors.
Beyond the usual soups, stews, chilis, and bean dishes, you can make braised vegetables, risottos, porridges, casseroles, chutneys, relishes, breads, and even desserts.
The long, slow-cooking process enriches flavor
What I like best about slow cooker vegetarian recipes is that the long, slow-cooking process enriches the flavor of the dish in a way that other cooking methods can’t match. The deep complex flavors of stews and chilis, prepared on the stovetop, for example, pale in comparison to the slow-cooked version.
The true appeal of using a slow cooker is in its simplicity. Just plug it in and turn it on, and this self-contained small appliance cooks your entire dinner while you do other things. When you return several hours later, your kitchen is filled with the welcoming fragrance of a home-cooked meal. It’s almost as if you have a personal chef that cooked all day while you were at work or out shopping.
Taste, nutrition, and economy
In addition to convenience, slow cooking also scores high marks for taste and nutrition since the long cooking time allows both flavors and nutrients to concentrate in the food. The gentle slow-cooking process actually draws more flavor out of the ingredients.
The interesting paradox of a slow cooker is that while the food takes longer to cook, the cook has more free time. It is such a liberating feeling to put dinner on in the morning and knowing it will be ready when you are. No more rushing home to get dinner started.
Best of all, using a slow cooker can actually help you to eat more well-balanced and economical meals on those nights when you’re running late or are too tired to cook— those times when we tend to opt for take-out, junk food, or some other convenience food.
Most slow cooker enthusiasts agree that convenience, economy, and great taste are what keep them using a slow cooker time and again. As more people juggle trying to eat healthier with their busy lifestyles, they may find that vegetarian slow cooking provides an answer.
Some Things to Know
- Many vegetarian recipes cook faster than those made with meat. If you’re going to be gone all day, you can use a kitchen appliance timer to start your cooker up to two hours after you leave the house.
- Some slow-cookers cook “hotter” than others. You may need to experiment with cooking times to determine if your cooker cooks “hotter” and therefore, faster than the times given in recipes. You will soon be able to gauge how long recipes will take in your cooker.
- While some recipes may consist of dumping a bunch of ingredients in a slow cooker, turning it on, and walking away, many recipes benefit by an extra step of sauteing chopped onions and other hard vegetables in a little oil before adding to the slow cooker. Taking this extra step will be repaid by a vastly improved flavor and texture of your finished dish.
Here are a trio of recipes from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker:*
- Slow-Cooker Bell Peppers Stuffed with Salsa Rice and Beans
- Slow-Cooker Pear and Dried Fruit Chutney
- Slow-Cooker White Bean and Sweet Potato Stew with Collard Greens
Look for more slow-cooker recipes in the Slow-Cooker Recipes category on VegKitchen.
Robin Robertson has worked with food as a restaurant chef, caterer, cooking teacher, and food writer. She is the author of numerous cookbooks including Freshfrom the Vegetarian Slow Cooker,* Visit her on the web at Global Vegan Kitchen.
*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!