Our Top 4 Favourite Slow-Cooker Meals!

 Moroccan chickpea stew

Moroccan chickpea stew

Although the weather in Southwestern Ontario has been downright balmy lately, I expect we’re in for at least one more snowfall – it’s too early to call it spring, right?! (I hope not.) Over the last couple of snowy months, my partner and I have been getting a ton of use out of our slow cooker.

In addition to the obvious advantages, I’ve discovered that slow-cooker meals are especially great when you’re hosting. Using a slow cooker means: (a) you can hang out with your guests until the moment you’re ready to eat; (b) your timing can be flexible – no worrying about your guests being late and your meal getting cold or (worse) overcooked on the stove; and (c) your guests will walk in to the delicious aromas of whatever you’re cooking, with no dishes in sight (because you’ll have time to clean up before they arrive!). What could be better than that?

Since we’ve been trying to eat meatless meals more often, we’ve been relying heavily on a cookbook we had lying around called “Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow-Cooker” by Robert Robertson.

Here are a few of our favourites from this cookbook, which span several regional cuisines:


Moroccan-inspired vegetable and chickpea stew

This recipe is full of delicious spices that will leave your house smelling amazing! We skipped the olives as neither of us like them, and served it over couscous.


Sauté the following in a frying pan:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 small sweet bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

After 5 min, add these spices*, and stir for 30 seconds:

  • 1 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger (I used ½ tsp ground)
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp tumeric

*We doubled all of these spices the second time we made this recipe, with much better results. Feel free to double the amounts listed – I promise, it won’t be too much!

Transfer to slow cooker. Add ingredients below.

  • 8 oz green beans, cut
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 15.5-oz can chickpeas (drained)
  • 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes (recipe says to drain and chop, but I skipped this)
  • 1.5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

About 20 minutes before you’re ready to eat, stir in the dried fruit.

  • ½ cup mixed dried fruit (I used dried apricots)

When ready to eat, stir in olives. Serve over couscous (if desired) and sprinkle each dish with fresh parsley.

  • ¼ cup olives, halved and pitted (we omitted these)
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves

2)     FRENCH

Half-Day Ratatouille

We learned to love ratatouille while living in France – we also learned it is 100x easier than we ever expected when you use a slow cooker! Just chop up the veggies, dump in the slow cooker, and turn it on low for 4-6 hours! We’ve served it over rice or couscous as a main, and also used it as a side-dish – all work equally well!


Sauté the following in a frying pan for 5 min:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant, diced

Transfer eggplant to slow cooker.

Cook the following for about 5 min, until onion is softened.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced

Transfer onion to slow cooker, along with the following:

  • 1 small sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced in rounds
  • 28-oz can diced tomatoes (including the juice)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Season with salt and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours.

Just before serving, stir in pesto.

  • 3 tbsp pesto (we used store-bought)
  • Serve over rice, couscous, pasta or on its own as a side dish.

3)     SPANISH

Vegetarian* Paella

*This recipe was for vegetarian paella, but we decided to make it pescetarian by substituting the vegetarian sausage for shrimp. (I’m sure most Spaniards would turn their nose up at anything but a traditional paella with lots of seafood and chorizo, but this version was really delicious!)


Sauté the following for 5 min, until onion is softened:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped

Transfer onion to slow cooker.

Stir in the following ingredients.

  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 oz green beans, cut
  • 28-oz can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped (I don’t see why you can’t use diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 9 oz artichoke hearts (I halved these)
  • 15.5 oz can kidney beans
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp saffron (4-6 threads)**
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

**A note on saffron. It is irreplaceable – but also costs $12 for 1/2 g at our local grocery store! After searching online for replacements (and being reassured that there are none as good as the real thing), I found a forum that suggested using Goya Sazón with Saffron cubes, which include Mexican saffron, among other spices. They do include MSG, which I normally avoid, but I figured I was only using a couple of cubes once (and they were <$2.50 at Walmart!) This paella turned out delicious, so I think adding the cubes really helped attain that unique paella flavor! Feel free to try this if you don’t have (or can’t afford) saffron.

Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir in rice, and cook on low for 1 hour, until the rice is tender.

  • 1 cup converted/Valencian rice (I used Uncle Ben’s converted rice)

Towards the end of the hour, fry vegetarian sausage links (or shrimp if not vegetarian) in a frying pan (cook sausage links for about 5 min, or shrimp for even less – just until pink!)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz vegetarian sausage links (we replaced this with 1 bag of peeled, uncooked shrimp, thawed)

Remove from pan and set inside. Add the mushrooms to the same pan and cook until tender, stirring regularly, about 3 minutes.

  • 4 oz oyster mushrooms, cut

About 10 mins before ready to east, stir the sausage links/shrimp, mushrooms, and peas into the slow cooker. Cover and finish cooking.

  • 1 cup peas

Serve garnished with parsley and lemon wedges on each plate.

  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

4)     TEX-MEX

Vegetarian Chili

We’ve also whipped up a few batches of vegetarian chili (my husband’s recipe) with some homemade cornbread on the side (totally worth making!) If you use the cornbread recipe I’ve linked, I’d recommend halving (or freezing half of) the recipe, as it made way too much for us!

We don’t have a set recipe, but for our chili, we usually use:

  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes (we like the “fire roasted” ones)
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of 6 bean blend
  • 1 package of Yves original veggie ground round
  • 1 yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 zucchinis (diced)
  • 1 large carrot (diced)
  • We sometimes throw in a sweet potato (diced)
  • A hearty dash of chili powder
  • Hot spice, to taste, if you like it spicy
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Throw everything into the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve warm with shredded cheddar cheese on top and a slice of cornbread or other crusty bread to mop up the goodness!