Rainbow Stew: Another Slow Cooker Favorite

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010

My typical lunch "hour" is spent hunched over at my desk doing work, unfortunately. My responsibilities entail not only my attention to detail as the director's assistant, with the PR committee, and with various editing and photography needs (all of which I love) . . . but I'm also the building manager. What exactly does this mean? Well, I'm responsible for arranging to fix anything that breaks within a gigantic, four-story monster of a building that enjoys foot traffic from most of the campus daily. Toilets explode. Alarms go off. Students spit on the floor (true story). ID cards stop granting access. Electricity fails and outlets spark. Ants take offices by force. The list goes on and on (and on). Yesterday I found myself leading an entourage of facilities employees through the building to find nuts and bolts to fix one of our periodicals stacks. Random, random stuff here. And it doesn't stop for lunch.

What's worse is that until recently, I always, always would forget to even BRING my lunch . . . or wouldn't have enough time in the morning to slap something together. For a while, Lean Cuisine was my savior. But all the salt in them started to concern me. And since my favorite is mac and cheese, I wasn't exactly getting the best nutrition.

Enter, again, the slow cooker. I made this "rainbow stew" -- a rather psychedelic name for a rather trippy stew -- by throwing all the veggies I could find into a pot. My favorite ingredients? The sweet potatoes and eggplant AND cauliflower. But the kidney beans and fire-roasted tomatoes have their moments, too. It's all good. If you're wondering why you should eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies, read this.

So, when I take the time to actually bring my lunch, I find myself taking time to actually TAKE my lunch. Use this recipe as a jumping point and you, too, can enjoy a week of intensely nutritious, relaxing lunches (or half a week for two people eating a little over a cup daily). I paired mine with half a PB&J on multi-grain.

Just look at all those veggies!


What you'll need . . .
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, skinned and cubed (orange)
  • 1 medium eggplant, cubed (purple)
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped (green)
  • 1/2 medium Spanish onion, chopped (yellow)
  • 2 small heads cauliflower, chopped (white)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (dark green)
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced (white)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped (green)
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained (dark red)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained (light brown)
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes, drained (red)
  • 2 cans vegetable broth (a little over four cups)
  • Salt and pepper to taste . . . though we only used pepper

Method . . .
  1. Chop, mince, and otherwise prepare all your ingredients.
  2. Put EVERYTHING -- all vegetables (and fruits if you want to get all technical on me) and beans -- in the slow cooker pot and mix them to distribute.
  3. Pour in the vegetable broth
  4. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook for about 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Mix every hour or so.

PS: Unless you like your soups hot-hot-hot, you'll really want to seed the jalapeno. My husband didn't do this, and ours was very good, but for the first couple days, I'd choke when I took my first slurp.

PPS: Check us out on one of my favorite cooking/kitchen-related blogs -- THE KITCHN -- our kitchen tour made the cut and is now up for your viewing pleasure.

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