Living in a small New York City apartment means exercising extreme discernment when it comes to the addition of a new kitchen appliance. There simply isn’t a lot of space to go around, and most appliances are pretty cumbersome. Plus, there’s the issue of buyer’s remorse, or outgrowing an appliance once you’ve invested in it. I use nearly all of my appliances on a regular basis, but I can’t name the last time I used my juicer.
For all of these reasons, I’ve been hesitant to add a slow cooker to my appliance collection, even though I’ve been curious about one for a long time. I started reconsidering it this fall, when I started up grad school again; I knew that being able to throw dinner ingredients together and allow an appliance to do the work would be a huge time-saver as I juggle clients and classes.
So, when the folks at Hamilton Beach reached out to me about reviewing their new Programmable Stay or Go 6 Quart Slow Cooker, I was thrilled, and very interested indeed.
The main purpose of this appliance is to make life just a little easier. You can program the slow cooker on either a low or a high setting for 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 hours, then forget about it. The slow cooker will switch to a “warm” setting automatically as soon as cooking is done, so there’s no need for babysitting. It’s as simple as getting a recipe set up, then letting the slow cooker do it’s magic!
Other features of the Stay or Go Slow Cooker include:
-A single clip quickly seals lid onto base to reduce messy spills
-A hinged lid that stays up then easily detaches for dishwasher cleanup
-Dishwasher safe lid & stoneware
Having this slow cooker is opening up a world of new vegan recipes, including some I’ve always wanted to try, such as slow cooker steel cut oats, slow cooker chili, slow cooker Cuban black beans, slow cooker applesauce, and so much more. When I got the slow cooker, I decided to order a copy of Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker, which I’ve heard great things about. It’s a wonderful and accessible book, and I’m excited to explore it. For now, Pinterest and other online recipes are keeping me busy!
I was fairly torn on what to prepare first, but I let my pantry guide me. I had a ton of Spanish pardina lentils at home; they’d been on sale at my local health food store, and I’m a big fan of their texture and size (a little bigger than beluga or Le Puy lentils, but they hold their shape better than regular green or brown lentils). So, that was my recipe base. Because lentils go so nicely with Indian flavors, I decided to do a sweet, savory masala lentil dish: something halfway between soup and stew, a little less spicy than a curry but still very flavorful. And this recipe was born.
Things I love about this dish: it’s creamy, hearty, and filling, while also being incredibly healthy (rich in minerals, high in protein, full of micronutrients, high in fiber, low in fat…the list goes on). Tomato paste and stewed tomatoes create a rich base–more memorable than using broth or water alone. I love that the dish features garam masala, and with it the characteristically autumnal aromas of cinnamon and cardamom (there’s some ginger in here, too). I love that this could be served on its own, as a stew of sorts, or over rice (which is how I’ve been eating it). And I love that the recipe makes a lot of food; this means that it’s a perfect choice for batch cooking and freezing, which is an essential habit for me these days!
This recipe could easily be modified to include a different blend of spices or even different ingredients; I’m thinking that sweet potato would be a marvelous addition. But it’s great just as it is: an easy, low-stress, protein-rich, iron-rich, and highly nourishing meal.
Slow Cooker Masala Lentils (gluten free, soy free)
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger powder
- 2 1/4 cups brown green or pardina lentils
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 15- ounce can diced or stewed tomatoes with their juices
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste optional, adds a hint of tartness
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- A few shakes black pepper
- 1 cup light coconut milk
- For serving: Rice quinoa, or another whole grain | Fresh herbs
- Place all ingredients except for the coconut milk in your slow cooker. Stir. Cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or on low heat for 6 hours. In the last hour or two of cooking, respectively, check to see if the lentils need more liquid, and add extra broth or water. You can adjust this based on how thick you'd like the finished lentils to be, keeping in mind that you'll be adding more liquid in the form of the coconut milk.
- When the lentils are ready, stir in the coconut milk. Serve over a whole grain, if desired, and fresh herbs for garnish.
- Stovetop cooking alternative method: Saute the onion in a little grapeseed or coconut oil till clear and tender. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute or so. Add the remaining ingredients except for the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until the lentils are thick and resemble a stew (another 15-20 minutes). Stir in the coconut milk and serve.
Many slow cooker recipes call for sautéing onion and garlic before adding them (along with everything else) to the slow cooker. I was torn on whether or not that step would be worth it for this recipe. I’m sure that it makes a big difference in other recipes, but for this dish, simply adding all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and walking away was perfectly fine! And the resulting recipe has a lot of deep and rich flavor, so I don’t think it suffers from lack of browning the onions first.
As you can see, I’m a little smitten with the slow cooking process, and you can expect to see more slow cooker recipes on my blog and in my Monday menu plans from now on! I’ll do my best to supply a stovetop alternative, though, whenever I possibly can.
In the meantime, I’d love for one lucky reader to join in on the slow cooking fun with me! And fortunately for us, the folks at Hamilton Beach have kindly and generously offered to share a Programmable Stay or Go 6 Quart Slow Cooker with one Full Helping reader. Hooray! Simply follow the prompts below to enter the giveaway. I’ll run it for three weeks. US and Canadian residents only, please.
OK folks! That’s it for today. I’ll see you very soon for a new edition of weekend reading (is it just me, or did this week fly by? I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend). And until we meet again, I’d love to know what some of your favorite vegan slow cooker recipes are, so feel free to share! I’m on the market for great ideas 🙂
The slow cooker reviewed in this post and the slow cooker being given away were provided to me at no cost by Hamilton Beach. All opinions expressed in this post are my own.