I don’t use many small kitchen appliances that do the same type of work as my stove and oven. I’ve never been a huge fan of toaster ovens taking up my valuable counter space, and while I wouldn’t want to be without my microwave, it’s used for quick reheating, not so much for cooking.
But things change when we start talking about the slow cooker. Yes, I can cook beans, soups and stews on the stovetop, but I’d rather not be in the kitchen for hours. I’m amazed at how much I still use it, even now that I’m back working at home again (with extra time to cook dinner that was once spent commuting).
I have to admit that about the only thing that comes out of it these days are beans. Delicious beans, but even I can get tired of them every now and then.
A few weeks ago I received The Healthy Slow Cooker, Second Edition by Judith Finlayson. It was perfect timing because I was so ready to get out of my slow cooked bean rut.
This book is a revised version of one published in 2006. The front cover states that the book has “135 Gluten-Free Recipes for Health and Wellness,” so I had plenty to explore from cover to cover.
A highlight for me is that many of the recipes in this book can cook for 5 to 6 hours on low. This is something I look for in slow cooker recipes because if it cooks in an hour or two the idea of slow cooking while you are away for the day kind of goes out the window. That being said, the recipe instructions include a low and high setting. So if you will be around and want to speed things up, you can decrease the cooking time by setting it to high and the recipe tells you how.
The recipes are also light on the pre and post cooking. To me, there is no reason to use a slow cooker if you are going to spend an hour cooking the food before you…cook the food. The recipe I chose to make is a good example of this.
I didn’t stray too far from beans, but these Poached Eggs on Spicy Lentils were a huge hit around here. The recipe says that it is a great cold weather dish, but I could eat this any time of year.
The lentils are full of flavor and you can make them as mild or spicy as you wish. With the coconut milk, they cooked into a rich and creamy stew that was perfect with an egg on top. The recipe requires about 5 minutes of stove cooking time before adding everything to the cooker. About 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, you stir in coconut milk and make the poached eggs to go on top. It was super simple.
The book contains everything from breakfast and appetizers to sauces, dinners and desserts. Only 134 recipes left to make and with things like Maple Sweetened Congee and Sweet Potato Coconut Curry with Shrimp on the list, I might just do it.
Poached Eggs on Spicy Lentils
This delicious combination is a great cold-weather dish. Add the chiles if you prefer a little spice and accompany with warm gluten-free Indian bread, such as Yogurt Flatbread, and hot white rice. The Egg and Lentil Curry (see Variation in the book) is a great dish for a buffet table or as part of an Indian-themed meal.
Medium (approx. 4 quart) slow cooker
1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL
2 onions, finely chopped 2
1 tbsp minced garlic 15 mL
1 tbsp minced ginger root 15 mL
1 tsp ground coriander 5 mL
1 tsp ground cumin 5 mL
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns 5 mL
1 cup red lentils, rinsed 250 mL
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) no-salt-added tomatoes with juice, coarsely chopped
2 cups vegetable stock 500 mL
1 cup coconut milk 250 mL
1 long green chile pepper or 2 Thai bird’s-eye chiles, finely chopped, optional
6 eggs 6
1⁄4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves 60 mL
1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add lentils, tomatoes with juice and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
2. Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 4 hours, until lentils are tender and mixture is bubbly. Stir in coconut milk, salt, to taste, and chile pepper, if using. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through.
3. When ready to serve, ladle into soup bowls and top each serving with a poached egg (see Tip). Garnish with parsley.
To poach eggs: In a deep skillet, bring about 2 inches (5 cm) lightly salted water to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low. Break eggs into a measuring cup and, holding the cup close to the surface of the water, slip the eggs into the pan. Cook until whites are set and centers are still soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.
Makes 6 servings
Can Be Halved
Disclosure: This book was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and received no compensation for doing so.