When counseling many of my patients on healthier nutrition, a common barrier is lack of time to prepare foods. I understand. With our busy lifestyles, coming home to prepare a meal from scratch might seem like an overwhelming task. This is when slow cookers come in handy.
Nowadays they come in a variety of sizes, features and price ranges, and they can be used to prepare almost anything — including soups, legumes, meats, pastas and even desserts.
Today, I am sharing one of my favorite recipes, adapted from Eating Well. It is packed with plant-based nutrition and my favorite part is the awesome aroma it produces as the spices combine to produce this satisfying and easy-to-make dish.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
For the stew:
• 1 pound dry pinto beans, soaked (see tip below)
• 6 cups water
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
• 2 stalks celery, sliced
• 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons chili powder
• 2 teaspoons ground cumin
• 2 tablespoons lime juice
• 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the dumplings:
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup cornmeal, preferably whole-grain
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
• 1 fresh jalapeño, finely chopped (ignore if prefer a not spicy dish)
• Zest of 1 lime
• 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
• 1/2 cup sliced radishes
Drain the soaked beans. Combine the beans, water, onion, bell pepper, celery, corn, garlic, chili powder and cumin in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Cook on High for 4 hours — or on Low for 8 hours. I recommend cooking on Low for 8 hours if you are leaving it to cook while you go to work.
To prepare the dumplings: Just before the end of the 4 (or 8) hours, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add butter and use a pastry blender or two knives or a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add jalapeño (as desired) and lime zest and toss to combine. Add buttermilk and stir to form a dough.
After the bean mixture has cooked for 4 (or 8) hours, stir in lime juice and salt. Using generous tablespoons of dough, drop 8 dumplings on top of the stew. Cover and cook on High for 1 hour. Serve each portion of stew topped with a dumpling. Garnish with cilantro and radish.
Before using beans in a slow-cooker recipe, soak them to ensure even cooking. For both methods, start by sorting beans to remove any pebbles and rinse well with cold water.
Overnight soak: Place beans in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak at room temperature for 8 to 24 hours.
Quick soak: Place beans in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.