I will be the first toadmit that I love meat. My father likes to joke that I started early;apparently, while my mother was pregnant with me, she would often arrive homefrom work, grab my father, and hightail it to the nearest steakhouse.
However, I do love to tryvegetarian dishes. So many times when you’re a carnivore, you need a greatvegetarian dish to remind you how great veggies, grains and fruits can be on their own. So I was thrilled toget a cookbook that featured vegetarian recipes – all tailored for a slowcooker, no less.
Photo courtesy of Robert Rose Inc.
Titled The VegetarianSlow Cooker, this is the second vegetarian slow cooker book by JudithFinlayson. Flipping through it, I drooled over the 200+ recipes, pausing atones such as Beet Soup with Lemongrass and Lime, and Blueberry White ChocolateCheesecake with Chocolate Cookie Crust.
The book includes a rangeof cuisines, such as American, Italian, Mediterranean,Asian, and Indian. The chapters are similar to traditional cookbooks, coveringbreakfast through dessert. Yes, that’s right; you can make Apple Cranberry Breadin a slow cooker!
The recipes are prettywell laid out, and include notations like “Make Ahead,” “Entertaining Worthy,”and serving size, but I would have liked to see a prep time as well. I reallyappreciated the plethora of tips on the left side of each recipe – Finlaysondescribes shortcuts, variations on the recipe, and prep tips, among other tidbits.
Another aspect I foundhelpful was the introductory chapter. Finlayson covers the benefits of slowcooking, food safety, and basic explanations of the appliance to help you getthe most out of the cookbook and slow cooker.
One thing to keep in mindif you’re going to really use this cookbook is to consider getting two sizes ofcooker. For example, many of the dips and desserts call for a small cooker, andcannot be made in a large one. The opposite it true of many of the main dishes.
But of course, the bestpart of exploring this book was trying a recipe. I chose the Mushroom and ArtichokeLasagna to share with a couple of friends. It took me about an hour to make thefilling and then layer cooked pasta with ricotta cheese, mushrooms, artichokes,onions, and spinach in my slow cooker.
It looked so good that Iwished (just a little) that I could just pop it in the oven and have it readyin an hour!
Instead, I turned thecooker on to low and left my apartment to run errands and see a movie. Sixhours later I returned and a delicious scent had filled my apartment – just apreview of what I would soon eat.
The verdict: delicious!The mushroom-artichoke filling was hearty had a great savory flavor. It pairedwonderfully with some garlic bread and a salad. The next time I make this I mayinclude some sun dried tomatoes for an extra burst of flavor.
Sound good? Try the recipe below, or click here for some slow cooker ideas from MyRecipes.com
Mushroom Artichoke Lasagna Serves 8
Recipe and tips from The Vegetarian SlowCooker by Judith Finlayson
Tip: Unlike many recipesfor lasagna, this one is not terribly saucy. As a result, the noodles on thetop layer tend to dry out. Leave a small amount of the cooking liquid from themushroom mixture behind in the pan, after adding to the slow cooker. Pour thatover the top layer of the nodes, particularly around the edges, where they aremost likely to dry out. (Writer's note: The top noodles were very dry, so you might try using more cooking liquid here or shortening cooking time slightly.)
Make Ahead: Complete Steps1 and 2. Cover and refrigerate overnight. The next morning, complete therecipe.
Large (approx. 5 quart)oval slow cooker
Greased slow cookerstoneware
2 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 lb mushrooms, stemmedand sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 ½ cups quartered artichokehearts, packed in water, drained, or thawed if frozen
¾ cup dry white wine orvegetable broth
12 oven-ready lasagnanoodles*
2 ½ cups ricotta cheese
2 cups baby spinach
2 ½ cups shreddedmozzarella cheese
½ cup freshly gratedParmesan
1. In a skillet, meltbutter over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring, just until mushroomsbegin to lose their liquid, about 7 minutes. Stir in artichokes and wine and bringto a boil. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, until liquid reduces slightly.Set aside.
2. Cover bottom of slowcooker stoneware with 4 noodles, breaking to fit where necessary. Spread withhalf of the ricotta, half of the mushroom mixture, half of the spinach andone-third each of the mozzarella and Parmesan. Repeat. Arrange final layer ofnoodles over cheeses. Pour any liquid remaining from mushroom mixture overnoodles and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
3. Cover and cook on Lowfor 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until hot and bubbly.
* Per Finlayson, you canalso buy uncooked noodles, undercook them by two minutes, toss with olive oil,and set aside until you’re ready to use them.