Monday, June 30, 2008

vegan crockpot stew.

If you're turned off by the word "vegan," even hearty meat-eating friends of ours love this stew. And hey - you can always feel free to add meat to it. I actually have been vegetarian my entire life, so I have no suggestions about how to adapt this for meat-eaters. You'd probably know better than me.

I make this stew in our Crock Pot. Takes about 15 minutes to prep, and then cooks itself all day long without any further effort from me. Super nice on days when I don't feel like cooking, but want a home-cooked meal. If Bee's happy, I do all the vegetable chopping with her in the playpen. If she's sad, I toss her onto my back in the Ergo. If, by some miracle, she's asleep (sleep? what's that?), I can get the whole thing done in the 20 minutes that she usually naps.

If you're into Weight Watchers, this recipe is low-point, and Core-friendly.

Stuff You Need
slow cooker
1 medium eggplant, diced
1/3 of a medium-sized cabbage, chopped
2 carrots, cut into discs
1/2 cup green beans
2 potatoes, diced
1 small onion, chopped (can substitute with, or add, scallions)
1/2 cup dry, or 1 can, chickpeas (sustitute with kidney beans, black beans, etc., as desired - when using dry beans, soak in water overnight first!)
6-12 oz tomato paste (depending on how tomato-ey you want it - can substitute crushed or pureed tomatoes)
1/4 to 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice (I sometimes use cracked wheat instead)
3 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 cups water
salt to taste
dried or fresh herbs of choice (optional)

*Note: you can put in or take out any veggies you want. Don't like eggplant? Add more potatoes! Looking to reduce starches? Nix the potatoes and rice, and add in lentils! (Red lentils are delicious in this; I add 4-8 oz when I use it.) It's an EXTREMELY adaptable recipe. I am always doing something different with it, depending on our mood and what's in the fridge.

Recipe
Throw everything into the slow cooker except the herbs. Cook on low for about 6 hours. Add herbs just before serving. That's right: all you have to do is chop everything and throw it in there.

We usually serve it with Costco's Kirkland brand whole wheat croutons. They are DELICIOUS, and if you're into Weight Watchers, 5 croutons are about 1 point. If you aren't vegan (we aren't), I heartily recommend serving it with cheese as well. We usually cut up several cubes of Dubliner cheese (mmmmmm) and toss them into the bowl and pour the stew on top. Jarlsberg would be divine as well.

With the croutons and the cheese, we find that this recipe serves 6-8 people.

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