Three Delicious Crock-Pot Dinner Recipes for Vegetarians
A Crock-Pot is just as useful a tool for making vegetarian dinners as it is meat-based meals, reducing the task to a minimal amount of easy preparation earlier in the day and very little else to do before dinnertime. Many of the staple ingredients of vegetarian cooking, including beans, pulses, root vegetables and mushrooms, become especially tender and flavorful when they're cooked low and slow. Yet vegetables that generally benefit from shorter cooking times, such as green beans and spinach, have a place in Crock-Pot recipes, too. The following three recipes illustrate just how easy and delicious Crock-Pot cooking for vegetarians can be.
1. Vegetarian Chili
Vegetables, beans, tomatoes and spices are the basis for any vegetarian chili, a versatile one-pot dinner that's ideal for Crock-Pot cooking. Use canned chopped tomatoes and tomato paste as the base, and for seasoning add garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Include drained canned beans, either kidney, black, pinto, or a combination of several types. Many kinds of vegetables, both fresh and frozen, are delicious in chili, but onions, sweet potatoes, squashes, bell peppers, corn and celery are all especially tasty. Cook everything for 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 8 hours on low.
2. Mushroom Stroganoff
Served with egg noodles or rice and perhaps a steamed green vegetable, mushroom stroganoff cooked in the Crock-Pot makes a delightful vegetarian dinner. Slow-cook whole, halved or sliced mushrooms with diced onion, minced garlic, a spoonful or two of tomato paste, a little smoked paprika and a generous dash of soy sauce (or vegetarian Worcestershire sauce if you can find it). When the mushrooms are fully cooked, around 3 to 4 hours on high, stir in enough sour cream to create a rich, creamy sauce. Let the sauce come to a gentle simmer in the pot, and then stir in a handful of chopped fresh parsley.
3. Vegetable Lasagna
Use your Crock-Pot to cook a satisfying, veggie-packed lasagna without having to go near your oven. The recipe calls for any jarred tomato-based sauce you like, plus ricotta, grated mozzarella, lasagna noodles and any vegetables of your choice, chopped small. Good vegetables to use include onions, zucchini, bell peppers and baby spinach. Mushrooms and sliced olives are nice additions too. Assemble the lasagna in layers as follows: vegetables, then sauce, then noodles (broken to fit in a single layer), ricotta, and finally mozzarella. Create two or three layers, depending on the volume of ingredients you have, and bake the lasagna on low for 4 to 5 hours, or until the noodles are fully cooked.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.