My poor slow cooker has spent most of its life gathering dust on a shelf, but lately it is getting a workout thanks to Kathy Hester’s new book, The Vegan Slow Cooker. With easy recipes, a clean layout, and lovely photos, it’s enticed even a last-minute cook like me to think ahead a little and get my crock pot going in the morning so that when dinnertime comes the meal is already done. Fortunately, Kathy’s publisher sent me two copies of her book, so I have one to share with a lucky reader–maybe you! [Update: A winner has been drawn. Thank you to all who entered. See the end of the post for details.]
When you open The Vegan Slow Cooker, the first thing you’ll notice is the layout: each recipe has its own page (no turning back and forth between ingredients and instructions) with ingredients on the left and instructions on the right. Kathy breaks the instructions down into two parts, what to do the night before and what to do in the morning, so that the recipes come together quickly in the morning when you’re likely to have less time. And if you’re a visual person, you’ll be happy to know that there are large, professionally shot photos of about 40 of the 150 recipes. Most recipes are easy and call for ingredients that are not hard to find in supermarkets.
Many of the recipes do use seitan and soy, but Kathy offers substitutes and includes recipes for making your own seitan (“Chick’n” and “Beefy”) as well as a gluten-free apple sage sausage, homemade ketchup, and low-sodium “chickeny” bouillon. Soy-free and gluten-free recipes are marked with symbols, and asterisks indicate substitutes for soy and gluten. Though many of the recipes contain a little olive oil or vegan margarine, there are several recipes that are fat-free as written, including Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto, Caribbean Mango Black Beans, and Chile-Chocolate Black Bean Brownies (includes walnuts). Most of the oil that is used is easily removed by sauteing with water or broth, though the recipes that include vegan cheese may be a little harder to adapt for low-fat dieters.
You can get a taste of Kathy’s recipes for yourself at her blog, Healthy Slow Cooking. She has also contributed several to the main Fatfree Vegan Recipes site, where they’ve become some of the most popular recipes. You can see them all on this page.
I had a hard time deciding which recipe to test from the book–both the Pumpkin Lasagna and the Caribbean Mango Black Beans had me intrigued–but the decision was taken out of my hands when my husband saw the Hot and Sour Soup recipe. It’s a soup he’s been craving ever since he became vegetarian, and I just haven’t found a recipe he really likes. Kathy’s version, however, was a huge success. Though it wasn’t exactly what he remembered, it was so flavorful due to the long-cooking of the mushrooms in garlic and ginger-flavored broth–we both loved it. Though the recipe says that it makes 4 servings, they are very big servings, and since we were eating it as part of a meal that included stir-fried vegetables and rice, we actually enjoyed leftovers for two more meals. I didn’t think the 1 teaspoon of chile sauce (I used Sambal Oelek) would be very spicy, but it turned out too hot for E, so spicy-haters beware and use a little less. With the chile sauce on the side, this soup will be a regular in our house.
Now, I promised you a chance at a free book: Just leave a comment below before noon Central time on Thursday telling either (1) your favorite slow-cooker recipe or (2) why you’d like a copy of the book, and I’ll pick one lucky winner at random. Be sure to include your correct email address (no one but me can see it and I won’t spam you!) I’ll announce the winner on my Facebook page at noon on Thursday, October 6, or you can check back here for an update.
Update: The contest is now closed. Thanks to everyone who left a comment trying to win my one copy of the book. I wish I had 475 of them to give out! The winner is number 104, Gloria, who said she needs more family-friendly recipes.Congratulations, Gloria!
Hot and Sour Soup
from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester
Kathy’s note: It’s hard to find vegan soups at Chinese takeouts in most areas. This is the perfect cold and flu season soup. It clears those sinuses right up! You can adjust the amount of spice until it’s just right for you.
- 1 10 ounce (280g) package sliced mushrooms
- 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps sliced
- 1 8-ounce (225g) can bamboo shoots, drained and jullienned
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15 ounce (420g) package firm or silken tofu, cubed
- 2 tablespoons (16g) grated fresh ginger, divided
- 4 cups (940ml) water
- 2 tablespoons (16g) vegan chicken-flavored bouillon
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce (or tamari, for gluten-free)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil, plus extra for drizzling (Susan’s note: I didn’t need the extra)
- 1 teaspoon chili paste
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups (225g) fresh or frozen peas
- The Night Before: Store the cut-up mushrooms, bamboo shoots, garlic, and tofu in an airtight container in the fridge. Store the prepared ginger in another airtight container in the fridge.
- In the Morning: Combine the mushrooms, bamboo, shoots, garlic, tofu, 1 tablespoon (8g) of the ginger, water, bouillon, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and vinegar in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- A few minutes before serving, add the peas and the remaining 1 tablespoon (8g) ginger and stir to combine. Taste the broth and add more vinegar or chili if needed. Drizzle a few drops of sesame oil on top of each serving. If you like it milder and your friends like it hot, serve the chili paste on the side.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 6 to 8 hour(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
Nutrition (per serving): 208 calories, 62 calories from fat, 7.4g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1088.4mg sodium, 546.3mg potassium, 21.6g carbohydrates, 5.4g fiber, 6g sugar, 19.2g protein, 6.1 points. (Nutrition courtesy of FatFree Vegan Kitchen–any mistakes are mine. Sodium and fat content will vary depending on the brand of bouillon and type of tofu used.–SV)
Copyright © Kathy Hester, The Vegan Slow Cooker, Fair Winds Press, 2011. Reproduced by permission.