I’m so excited to be part of Robin Robertson’s virtual blog tour, which is stopping by my blog today. Robin not only has a fantastic new cookbook out on vegan slow cooking, but she has also generously agreed to be my guest blogger. Make sure to leave your name and email address (or a way for me to reach you) in the comment section (along with your favorite thing to make in the slow cooker), and enter to win your own copy of Fresh From The Vegan Slow Cooker. Trust me when I say that you’re going to love this book! Check back next week for the winner. A giant thank you to Harvard Common Press and Robin Robertson for the giveaway. So without further adue, I’m going to let Robin take it away from here.
A guest post by Robin Robertson, author of Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker (The Harvard Common Press, 2012)
The main reason people enjoy using a slow cooker is that you can “set it and forget it” until dinner time —something you wouldn’t do with most other cooking methods. With your main dish simmering in the slow cooker, you will have more time to be creative with side dishes, salads, or other accompaniments. Food doesn’t burn when left unattended because the heating coils in slow cookers cook food gently and evenly from the bottom and sides. The lid keeps the heat and moisture inside. So even though meals prepared in a slow cooker take longer to cook, they can actually save you time. Here’s a list of ten great reasons to use a slow cooker.
Ten Reasons to Use a Slow Cooker
• It’s a convenient way to prepare healthy home-cooked meals.
• It allows you to cook and serve in the same vessel so it saves cleanup.
• It can have dinner ready and waiting at the end of the day.
• The slow, gentle cooking adds a depth of flavor to foods.
• It keeps the kitchen cool on hot days.
• It’s an ideal way to cook beans and seitan from scratch.
• It performs as a chafing dish or hot punch bowl at parties.
• It’s economical because it uses less energy than oven-cooking and makes great leftovers.
• It can be used as a mini-oven to slow-bake cakes, casseroles, potatoes, and more.
• It frees up burners when cooking for a crowd on holidays.
This recipe for stuffed winter squash is a good example of the convenience and versatility of using a slow cooker – just set it and forget it (although the wonderful fragrance permeating your house as it cooks, may make it hard to ignore!)
Recipe: Moroccan-Inspired Stuffed Winter Squash
Slow Cooker Size: 5½- to 6-quart
Cook Time: 5½ to 7 hours on Low
• 1 large kabocha or buttercup squash
• 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
• 1 large yellow onion, minced
• 2 celery ribs, minced
• 1 carrot, peeled and minced
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon ground allspice
• ½ teaspoon paprika
• ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
• ½ cup hot water
• 1 cup chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
• ½ cup chopped toasted slivered almonds
• 2 cups cooked rice, couscous, or quinoa
• ¼ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. If you can fit two squash halves in your slow cooker, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Use a sharp knife to make a flat bottom on the two halves so they sit evenly. If you can fit only the whole squash in your slow cooker, slice off the top of the squash and scrape out the seeds. Set aside.
2. For the best flavor, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, omit the oil and sauté these ingredients in a few tablespoons of water or combine them in a microwave-safe bowl, cover, and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, coriander, thyme, cinnamon, allspice, paprika, and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Add the water, stirring to mix well.
3. Transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl. Add the apricots, almonds, rice, parsley, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
4. Lightly pack the stuffing into the squash and place the squash inside the slow cooker. If cooking the squash whole, place the top back on the squash. Pour hot water into the slow cooker to come about ½ inch up the sides of the squash. Cover and cook on Low until the squash is tender, 5½ to 7 hours. Serve hot.
Recipe © 2012 by Robin Robertson and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.