Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mushroom Risotto

Slow cooked vegetarian mushroom risotto

Slow cooked vegetarian mushroom risotto

I can’t make risotto. I know how to make it, I’m just missing some kind of key risotto-making gene which means whenever I try to make risotto, no matter how much time I take slowly pouring in the stock and patiently stirring for three weeks (or however long it is; it feels like three weeks, anyway), the rice ends up as nasty crunchy bullets. Maybe the rice knows I’m not patient by nature and can feel the hate and resentment when I’m standing there relentlessly stirring instead of doing something far more pleasurable such as, say, emptying the cat litter tray or hanging up my washing.

So, why I decided to give risotto another go, I don’t know but, instead of the stirring-for-three-weeks-on-the-hob method, I had a look for a slow cooker recipe (although, for someone who can’t be arsed to stand around stirring things, I certainly lift the slow cooker lid plenty of times to give the contents a good stir) and found this one.

Usually when I use my slow cooker, I don’t bother with any pre-cooking malarky and just chuck everything in but, given my history with risotto-making, I thought I’d better give it a decent shot at turning out okay and followed the instructions, only deviating by adding garlic as there was no garlic in the original recipe, which led to a ‘what do you mean there’s no garlic in this recipe?’ moment. I mean, how can you have onions and mushrooms in something but no garlic? Crazy.

I’d like to say this risotto turned out perfectly, but I’d be lying. It was certainly tasty and definitely un-bullet-like but it was a tad stodgy and ‘wallpaper paste’ and ‘sticks to your ribs’ wouldn’t be unfair descriptions. Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t a disaster and I’d make it again and, if you give it a go, it’ll probably turn out perfectly. I just think risotto and I aren’t meant to be.

Slow cooked vegetarian mushroom risotto

Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Mushroom Risotto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Slow cooker
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4
  • 1.5 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 200g Arborio risotto rice
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 30g butter
  • 225g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 30g vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese, grated
  1. Heat the oil and add the onion and cook for 4 - 5 mins until soft.
  2. Add the rice and stir through so all grains are coated and cook for 2 mins.
  3. Transfer the rice and onion to the slow cooker and cover with the stock.
  4. Melt the butter in a pan and cook the sliced mushrooms for about 10 mins or until they have browned.
  5. Add the garlic to the mushrooms and cook for another minute or so.
  6. Stir the mushrooms into the rice and cook for 2 - 3 hours on low.
  7. Stir in the vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese in the last 5 minutes.



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Recipe: Slow Cooked Old El Paso Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole

Quorn Slow Cooked Creamy Casserole


The kitchen is currently being redecorated, so that seemed like a good excuse to be lazy and just chuck a load of stuff in the slow cooker. I’d been sent a few Old El Paso products to try but unfortunately two of the products weren’t suitable for vegetarians (the One Pot Rice Meal and the Stand ‘N’ Stuff Soft Taco Kit. I’ve never had tacos so I had been looking forward to trying them, before I found out they’re not veggie, ho hum). Their Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole Mix is suitable for vegetarians though (as are lots of other Old El Paso products), so I made that with Quorn fillets.

The recipe on the back of the packet said to mix the contents with 50ml of water. This seemed a tiny amount to me, especially as it was going to be sitting in a slow cooker all day, so I doubled it up to 100ml. I also added a few slices of jalapeno peppers and the result was a deliciously creamy, yet spicy, casserole.

Slow Cooked Old El Paso Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole (serves 4)

8 Quorn fillets (I put them in the slow cooker frozen)
1 packet Old El Paso Creamy Poblano Pepper Casserole Mix
100ml water
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
A few slices of jalapeno peppers, chopped
120ml double cream

  1. Place the Quorn fillets, onion, jalapenos and green pepper into the slow cooker.
  2. Mix up the casserole mix with the water and pour over the Quorn and vegetables and stir in.
  3. Cook on low for about 5 hours, adding the cream to the slow cooker 20 minutes before the end.
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Slow Cooked Bean, Potato & Cheese Stew

Slow cooked bean, potato and cheese stew


Cheese on top of a stew? Weird. But this is a Mexican-inspired stew and Mexicans put cheese on top of everything, don’t they? Mexican restaurants do anyway which, apart from the silly moustaches which I believe are compulsory to grow, would be a good reason to move to Mexico.

If, however, you have no immediate plans to move to Mexico, you could make this stew instead.

Slow Cooked Bean, Potato & Cheese Stew (serves 4)
(taken from The Skinny Slow Cooker Vegetarian Recipe Book)

1 400g tin sweetcorn
1 400g tin mixed beans
1 red pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
500ml passata
1 tsp each cumin and coriander
75g grated cheddar cheese
150g potatoes, diced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker except the cheese. Combine well, then sprinkle the cheese on top. Season, cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.

Serve with flat bread/pitta bread and sour cream.

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Vegan Chickpea and Spinach Curry


I much prefer my cookbooks to be paper-based (as opposed to paperbacks which now I much prefer to be Kindle-based), but when I saw The Skinny Slow Cooker Vegetarian Recipe Book on Amazon for 99p, I thought I’d give it a go.

It’s great. I made this curry last night and will be making a bean, potato and cheese stew from it tonight.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry (serves 4)
(adapted from The Skinny Slow Cooker Vegetarian Recipe Book)

2 400g tins chickpeas, drained
1 onion, chopped
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
75g fresh spinach
500ml stock
pinch salt

Combine all the ingredients except the spinach in the slow cooker. Cover and leave on low for 4-6 hours or on high for 2-4 hours. Add a little more stock during cooking if needed, or if it needs thickening remove the lid and leave to cook on high for a further 45 minutes or until you get the desired consistency. Stir in the spinach and heat through until wilted.

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Campbell’s Soup Limited Edition Andy Warhol Cans


You all know Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans. Now those cans have been brought to life for a limited time.

Campbell’s are also offering everyone the chance to win their own ‘15 minutes of fame’ (or should that be 15 megabytes of fame?) by creating a recipe using a can of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup.

The winner will receive:

a set of LE CRUESET cookware
and a month’s supply of CAMPBELL’S SOUP

Also, the winning recipe will be professionally photographed and featured on the CAMPBELL’S website.

If you want to enter, you’ll have to be quick as the competition closes on Monday 14 October, with the winner being announced on Wednesday 16 October.

For more information and to enter the competition, visit the Campbell’s competition page.

So, am I entering the competition? Of course I am. When it comes to tomato soup, my recipes usually consist of:

1. Open can.
2. Pour into mug.
3. Microwave mug.
4. Drink soup straight from mug.

Or, if I’m feeling posh:

1. Open can.
2. Pour into saucepan.
3. Heat contents of saucepan.
4. Pour into bowl.
5. Drink with a spoon.

So I had to get creative. I decided to use the soup in a slow-cooked Quorn chilli and it was a delicious addition.


Slow-cooked Quorn chilli (serves 6)

500g Quorn mince (or other meatfree mince), leave frozen
1 large onion, chopped
1 can Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
200ml water
1 red chill, chopped
2 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper

Put all the ingredients in the slow-cooker and heat on LOW for about 7-8 hours.

Serve with basmati rice, sour cream or yoghurt, and pitta bread.


Quorn soaks up a lot of water, so if it seems really thick when you add everything, add more water.

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Spicy chickpeas in tomato sauce with rosemary


My life over the last few weeks, while not exactly jet set, has certainly been a bit train set with me up and down the country from Kent to Salisbury and London and Dorking and Ipswich and so I haven’t been in the kitchen much making healthy meals. Whether I’ve been in bed a lot complaining of having a hangover is another matter.

Still, I’m back now (well, until Friday when I’m off to London for afternoon tea and a gig, then back again to London on Sunday for the London Duathlon) and so tonight, much to The Meat Eater’s relief, I made something tasty and healthy for dinner.

The Meat Eater said it had too much rosemary in it, but that didn’t stop him cleaning his plate right down to the last grain of rice.

In the cookbook I used – Slow Cooking for Vegetarians – it once again faffs around cooking ingredients before adding them to the slow cooker. The recipe below is my faffless way of doing it.

Spicy chickpeas in tomato sauce with rosemary (serves 4)
(Adapted from Slow Cooking for Vegetarians)

2 cans chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp cumin seeds
4 bay leaves
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 green chillie, chopped
600ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  1. Preheat the slow cooker on High.
  2. Place all the ingredients except the parsley in the slow cooker and cook on High for about 8 hours.
  3. Just before serving, stir in the parsley.
  4. Serve with basmati rice (or whatever you want to serve it with).
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Vegetarian slow cooked sausage and bean casserole

schwartz-slow-cooker-mixI saw these Schwartz slow cooker mixes in the supermarket and, although I don’t use packet mixes very often, it gave me an excuse to use my slow cooker. I bought the sausage and bean casserole mix, which is a mix of tomato, red bell peppers and oregano.

The recipes on the website for the slow cooker mixes are all meaty ones but the mixes are all vegetarian and, anyway, sausages don’t have to be made of meat, do they? For the squeamish, just imagine it says ‘Quorn’ before ‘beef’ and ‘chicken’ on the other ones.

As with all slow cooker recipes you have to begin early but it feels weird preparing dinner at 10:45 in the morning. Still, it only took a few minutes and it was totally worth it. Plus, having it simmering away all day meant all I had to do in the evening was boil some potatoes and vegetables.

Sausage and bean casserole (serves 4)
Recipe adapted from the Schwartz website

8 vegetarian sausages (I used frozen Linda McCartney ones and put them in the slow cooker still frozen)
1 onion, cut into chunks
400g tin cannellini beans, drained
1 sachet Schwartz Slow Cooker Sausage & Bean Casserole
400g tin chopped tomatoes
125ml (4fl oz) water
2 tbsp tomato purée

  1. Put the sausages in the slow cooker.
  2. Mix the sachet contents with the chopped tomatoes, water and tomato puree and pour over the sausages.
  3. Stir through.
  4. Cook on LOW for about 8 hours.

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Slow cooked aubergine, sweet potato and parsnip in coconut sauce

Delicately spiced. Or, as I would put it: ‘bland’. The Meat Eater liked it but I improved my portion by covering it with chilli flakes. Damn my alcohol and cigarettes* damaged tastebuds.

I didn’t fry the ingredients first, as stated in the book – maybe this impacted on the taste? I’ll type out the recipe as it is in the book, in case you want to do it properly. But if you want to use my method, it’s:

  1. Bung everything in the slow cooker and cook on Low for about 7 hours.

Also, I didn’t have chickpeas, so I used haricot beans instead.


Slow cooked aubergine, sweet potato and parsnip in coconut sauce (serves 4)

3 tbsp olive oil
1 large aubergine, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp grated fresh root ginger
1 tbsp garam masala
1 sweet potato, diced
1 parsnip, diced
425g can of chickpeas, drained
400g can of chopped tomatoes
350ml coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the slow cooker on High.
  2. Heat the oil in the large pan, add the aubergine and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown.
  3. Stir in the root ginger and garam masala.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Transfer to the slow cooker and stir gently.
  5. Cover and cook on Low for 7-9 hours until everything is tender.
  6. Stir well before serving.

*I don’t smoke any more. Disgusting habit.

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Slow cooker chocolate cake

I know I said the other day that I didn’t really like cake but yesterday, after my friend Emma mentioned on Facebook that she’d made one in her slow cooker, I decided to give it a go too.

I used her recipe that she got from here, who got it from here.


The Meat Eater liked it. I, however, didn’t like it at all – it tasted chemically and the aftertaste lingered for hours. This may be because I didn’t have any baking soda and doubled the amount of baking powder instead. Or maybe it was because I don’t really like cake. Emma said that everyone she knows who likes chocolate loves this cake, so it’s probably worth your while giving it a go.

Slow cooker chocolate cake

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
    Spray the slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.
    In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in the boiling water. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.
    Pour the cake batter into the prepared slow cooker.

Set cooker to "Low". Cook until cake has no wet spots on top and has pulled away from the sides of the slow cooker, about 3-4 hours.

Turn off slow cooker and allow cake to rest for 30 minutes before serving.

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Butter bean, tomato and artichoke soup


Okay, so you’ve got a slow cooker recipe you really want to try out, but it says it’s going to take 6-10 hours. Assuming you want your lunch at around 1pm, and we choose the in between time of eight hours, this means that you’ll have to start it off at 5am.

I don’t know about you but a) I’m not usually (um, let’s make that ever) up at 5am; and b) if I was, I wouldn’t want to faff about getting soup ingredients ready.

The Meat Eater came to my rescue by suggesting I use the plug timer thing – it’s a plug that you plug your appliance plug into and you set it for whatever time you want your appliance to come on. Sorted. Sort of. That sounded fine in theory, but that meant getting all the ingredients ready and leaving them in the slow cooker for about seven hours until the timer came on and switched on the slow cooker. I didn’t want to leave vegetables hanging around that long but then I remembered that I didn’t think twice about leaving milk, cheese and butter in the bread maker overnight, so sod it, that’s what I did.

The timer came on at the right time, and my soup was ready for me at lunchtime. I thought the onions and artichokes would disintegrate after being cooked for eight hours, but the onions still had a bit of crunch and the artichokes kept their shape and were beautifully tender.

This recipe is taken from Slow Cooking for Vegetarians. The original recipe says you should fry the onion and garlic, then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil before transferring to the slow cooker, but I didn’t bother with that and just put everything in the slow cooker together without cooking first.

A light and super-healthy soup, bursting with flavour and texture.

Butter bean, tomato and artichoke soup (serves 4)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
425g tin butter beans
425g tin artichoke hearts, drained and halved
1tsp dried thyme
900ml vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker
Cook on Low for 6-10 hours until all the ingredients are tender
Adjust the seasoning to taste

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