Imagine coming home at the end of long day to a deliciously warm bowl of home-cooked goodness. That’s where your slow cooker comes in. With a little planning you can save time and money by using this incredibly versatile kitchen gadget. And it’s not just for meat. Whether you use fresh, frozen or homegrown veg, we’ve scoured the internet to find the best vegetarian slow cooker recipes courtesy of inspirational food bloggers. Dinner will never be stressful again…
Vegan lentil stew with harissa
Looking for a hearty and wholesome stew to warm you up on cold autumn or winter evenings? When the weather draws in and the nights get shorter, Kate Hackworthy of Veggie Desserts craves one of these “big bowls of hot vegetables, thick with their own sauce.”
Substitute the veg to take advantage of anything that’s on special in the supermarket or hanging about in your fridge. Enlivened with cumin and harissa paste, this gently spiced vegan lentil stew is nourishing and fragrant – perfect eaten on its own or served with a thick wedge of crusty bread.
Pine nut, fennel and parmesan risotto
Risotto is the perfect dish to prepare in a slow cooker – the gentle cooking process gives the rice plenty of time to soak up all the lovely flavours in the pot. Simply swap the vegetables according to what’s in season.
This recipe was shared on Happy Foodie, a website packed with delicious ideas from renowned cooks, chefs and food bloggers. We love the combination of pine nut and fennel, brought together with shavings of parmesan. Want to experiment with other flavours? Chef Cara Hobday suggests “stirring in steamed asparagus, fresh peas or stir-fried courgette along with the rocket” at the end. It’s a one pot dinner party in the making!
“What a gift it is when you discover a food that’s a) deeply satisfying winter comfort-food, b) incredibly easy to make, and c) low-fat, high-protein and very good for you, all at the same time!”
Served with rice and/or naan bread, this tasty dish is even devoured by her son. And because it’s ideal for batch cooking, you can stock up the freezer and give yourself a few nights off from cooking in the weeks to come.
Mac & cheese
The ultimate in family-friendly comfort food, mac & cheese is like a warm hug on a busy weekday evening. Ciara at My Fussy Eater experimented with this classic favourite until she came up with a recipe that worked. And her beautifully soft, cheese-laden dish is more than a match for traditional methods.
“At this time of year the slow cooker has to be one of my favourite and most used kitchen gadgets...I love the fact that I can throw a few ingredients in there and come home a few hours later to a hot meal that’s ready to eat!
Serve with plenty of steamed broccoli or other seasonal veg such as kale, leeks or greens.
Persian chickpea stew
Instant Pot Persian chickpea stew is Jo’s latest food crush. Made with wholesome chickpeas along with fennel, cumin, coriander and turmeric, the ingredients really start to sing once you add harissa paste and lime.
Thanks to the chunks of potato and carrot, this delicious Middle Eastern stew is filling enough as it comes, but easily stretches to feed unexpected guests when served with rice, steamed couscous or bulgur wheat. But for a real treat, mop up the juices with warm, homemade pita bread. Jo shares her own recipe over on Every Nook and Cranny.
Great for batch cooking, this stew is the perfect way to fill your freezer with effortless meals for dark winter evenings.
Lentil sweet potato chilli
If you’re looking for an easy, delicious, nutritious vegan comfort meal, this hearty lentil and sweet potato chilli ticks all the boxes. Canadian blogger Gwen of Delightful Adventures makes no apologies for her huge batch recipe. As she says, “it freezes well and works great for lunches or a leftover supper for a night you don’t feel like cooking.”
Gwen loves to eat hers with diced avocado and some American style cornbread. But you can also serve this versatile chilli on a bed of steamed rice, piled onto baked potatoes, stuffed into taco shells or as the star attraction atop a platter of spicy nachos.
Spinach and cream cheese stuffed pasta shells
Jacqueline over at Tinned Tomatoes wanted a weeknight slow cooker meal that wasn’t soup or stew. The result? A fiendishly simple recipe for spinach and cream cheese stuffed pasta shells. And it was so successful that her son awarded it 9 out of 10!
Quick and easy to prepare, there’s no pre-cooking required and it’s ready in just three hours. Jacqueline makes hers with vegan cheese, but she says: “if you’re using a vegan mozzarella, choose one that’s coconut based. They’re much nicer and they melt beautifully.” Fantastic tip!
Cooking for a crowd? Bintu of Recipes from a Pantry says her spicy lentil curry never fails to please and scales up easily for gatherings with friends and family. The steaming pot of fragrant goodness takes centre stage at winter get-togethers and is ideal for vegan and gluten free guests too.
But the best thing about this recipe isn’t just the taste. “It’s actually because it is soooooooo easy to make,” says Bintu. “Put everything into your slow cooker, cover it, press go and come back 4 hours later. Sorted!” This is hands-free entertaining at its best.
Everyone knows that lasagna needs to be cooked al forno (in the oven), right? Wrong. Annabelle over at The Flexitarian has come up with a delicious vegetarian lasagne recipe that even diehard meat lovers enjoy – and it all happens in the slow cooker.
The trick to making this hearty Italian favourite is to cut the vegetables very finely. But apart from some slicing and dicing, there’s very little effort involved. There’s no pre-cooking, and the finished dish is bursting with flavour.
Annabelle recommends making the vegetable layer and tomato lentil sauce the night before if your mornings are hectic. That way you’ll be able to assemble the lasagne in just a few minutes.
We hope these delicious recipes have tempted you to dig out your slow cooker and make the most of the delicious seasonal veg available at this time of year. Got a favourite vegetarian slow cooker recipe? Share it over on our Facebook page or tag Waltons on your photos.
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