A slow cooker, also known as Crock Pot (which is a brand name I think), may seem like one of those kitchen gadgets that you’ll get, use once and forget. Although I use my slow cooker once a month or so, it is absolutely wonderful to have around. There have been many instances when my weekends were busier than my work days (and I do all my cooking on weekends) and slow cooker came to the rescue. I would set the thing up in the morning before I got out the door, and the dinner would be ready by the time I came back in the evening, warm and delicious!
For example, the recipe I am sharing here was the one I made for a dinner party – and everyone walked away with their bellies and taste buds completely happy!!! That’s another reason to get a slow cooker – it can really help with all those dinner parties and pot lucks. The crock pot serves not only to cook food but can hold food warm for hours.
My favorite thing to make in a crock post are sort of stews – hearty dishes with a handful of ingredients that are full of flavors and warmth. This jackfruit stew is a good example (and I also used jackfruit to make a “chicken” tikka masala in a slow cooker as well as BBQ pulled pork), as is this tofu-mango-chickpea curry.
The inspiration for this hodgepodge – which technically means “confused mixture” – was all the great vegetables that were in my weekly CSA share (CSA stands for Community-Supported Agriculture and is a program in the area where I live that supports local farmers and give local folks like me access to farm fresh produce). The recipe uses corn (kernels only), kale, potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion. All these ingredients work together well, and I don’t recommend that you make some sweeping swaps. Things that would likely work are using peas instead of corn, using rutabaga or turnip instead of potatoes, and chard, collard greens or spinach instead of kale.
However, there really is no substitute for the mirepoix – carrots, onions and celery. This makes the base of the dish and I can’t think of the ways to sub these – my apologies for those of you with onion allergies! Usually, mirepoix ingredients are sautéd; however, the slow cooker does not have this function. So, I recommend either sautéing diced carrots, celery and onion in a pan over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, or mixing the diced vegetables with some oil and putting them in a microwave oven for about 5 minutes. This will help brown and soften them, and will help with flavors!
Another shortcut that you can take when using a crock pot is to use a liner – this will make your clean up really, really quick! A liner is a special type of plastic bag that you put inside your crock pot and place all ingredients in it. The food cooks as it does normally and you end up with a clean pot afterwards. What’s not to love!!!
In addition to veggies, what makes this an amazing feast are the spices, curry powder and bay leaves, and coconut milk, which gives this stew its creaminess. Serve over rice or couscous, and perhaps with some coarse salt (which is what I topped mine with). Enjoy!
Slow Cooker Hodgepodge
What you’ll need:
- 1-1.5 lbs (500-800 g) white potatoes
- 4 ears of corn, just the kernels (or 4 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted, or about 2 cans (15 oz; 400 g) of whole kernel corn)
- 1 bunch (6 cups) kale (or chard or collard greens), just sliced leaves, stems removed
- 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 6 talks celery, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 can (13.66 fl oz; 400 mL) coconut milk
- 4-5 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon vegetable (or olive, or canola) oil
- OPTIONAL: Rice to serve
What you’ll do:
- Wash, peel and chop the potatoes into 1 to 1 1/2 in (2.5 – 3.5 cm) cubes. Place in the crock pot that has been lined with a liner, if using.
- If starting from fresh corn, wash the ears, and using a sharp knife go down each ear and get just the kernels. If using frozen corn, it’s best to leave it on the kitchen counter overnight to defrost, but you can start from frozen as well. If using canned whole kernel corn, drain and rinse before using. Place over the potatoes.
- Wash, drain and de-vein the kale to remove all the tough stems. Chop the leaves into rough shreds. Place over the corn.
- Peel and dice the onions and carrots, and dice the celery. Place onions, carrots and celery into a microwave safe dish, mix with 1 tablespoon of oil, and place in a microwave for 5-6 minutes on high power. You can also sauté on the stove top. Pour over the potatoes, corn and kale.
- Place a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the curry powder and dry toast for 1-2 minutes, then pour over the veggies in the crock pot.
- Pour the coconut milk, vegetable stock and tomato paste into a measuring cup or a mixing bowl large enough to hold everything. Mix together to combine. Don’t worry if there are chunks and clumps, but do give it a good mix. Pour over the vegetables in the crock pot.
- Give everything a good mix, tuck the bay leaves throughout the stew, cover with the lid and turn the crock pot on high heat for 6-8 hours.
- Serve over rice, or couscous, and sprinkle with salt (Note: this recipe does not use added salt, but you can add as little or as much salt as you like!).
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019