When the clocks roll back and days start getting shorter and colder, it’s time to put away the grill and pull out the slow-cooker!
Today, was my first slow-cooker meal of the season, and what a great kick-off it was—Ratatouille, that thick and robust French chunky tomato stew, full of flavorful spices, yet a low-calorie, nutrient-dense vegan meal.
I assembled my ingredients into the slow-cooker, turned it on Low at 9:00am, and headed upstairs to work. I don’t know why, but smelling a delicious dinner simmering away in the Crock Pot seems to make my work day move along a little better—perhaps it’s that little added thrill and anticipation of what will be waiting for me at the end of the work day at 5:00! But, it sure makes the cold, gray days of winter a bit more tolerable.
Most slow-cooker cookbooks are filled with meat dishes, so finding good vegan recipes can sometimes be a challenge. I discovered this Ratatouille recipe last winter when I was RVing down in Arizona. It fits my 3 1/2 quart Crock Pot perfectly, and that size slow-cooker fits nicely into my Winnebago View making this a great Vegan Vagabond meal!
adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens Low-Carb Slow Cooker Recipes
- 2 medium onions (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 6 oz. can of tomato paste (as low-sodium as you can find)
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 TB raw turbinado sugar (or other less-processed sugar)
- 3 small cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 TSP dried basil
- 1 TSP kosher sea salt
- 1 TSP dried thyme
- 1/4 TSP ground black pepper
- 5 fresh roma tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 small/medium unpeeled zucchini, halved lengthwise and finely sliced
- 3 cups of unpeeled eggplant, diced into small cubes
1. Place ingredients into a 3 1/2 quart slow-cooker in the exact sequence as listed above.
2. After adding the spices (and before adding the fresh tomatoes), spread the tomato paste to cover the onions, but ensure the onions remain on the bottom of the pot.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and lightly pack down so that the lid will still fit firmly on top of the pot.
4. Turn the slow-cooker on Low and cook for about 7 1/2 to 8 hours. Leave the lid on the whole time and DO NOT STIR until within the last 30-45 minutes (to allow the tomato juices to combine better with the eggplant).
5. Turn off the slow-cooker and let rest for 10-15 minutes while you warm a baguette in the oven and slice it.
6. Serve in large soup bowls. Makes about 4 cups (2 – 3 servings).