Your slow cooker doesn't need to be stored in the attic until the chilly months. Break it out early this year for delicious and easy late-summer meals that won't heat up your kitchen.
Summer Squash Soup
Combine 3 medium yellow summer squash, thinly sliced; 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced; 2 medium leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced (white part only); 1 teaspoon rubbed (dry) sage; 1 teaspoon dried thyme; salt; and ground pepper to taste in a slow cooker. Stir in 5 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth. Cover and cook on high until tender, 4-6 hours. Puree in batches in a food processor or a large blender. Serve hot or cold. Makes 8 servings, 1 cup each.
Combine 6 large tomatoes, chopped; 4 medium zucchini, thinly sliced; 2 large onions, thinly sliced; 2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped; 2 garlic cloves, minced; 1 large eggplant, chopped; 2 teaspoons dried basil; 2 teaspoons dried oregano; salt; and ground pepper to taste in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high until tender, 4-5 hours. Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each.
Fresh Fruit Compote
Combine 3 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and chopped; 2 medium pears, peeled, cored, and chopped; 2 medium nectarines, peeled, pitted, and chopped; and 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and chopped in a slow cooker. Stir in 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour in 1 cup apple juice. Cover and cook on high until the fruit is soft, about 4 hours. Makes 8 servings, ¾ cup each.
Core and shred 1 small head of green cabbage and place it in the slow cooker. Add 3 celery ribs, thinly sliced; 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped; 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped; and 1 medium onion, chopped. Stir in one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth, 1 bay leaf, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, salt, and ground pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low until the cabbage is tender, about 8 hours. Makes 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each.
Fresh Tomato Rice Soup
Chop 32 Roma tomatoes or 15 beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 pounds) and place them in a slow cooker. Stir in 2 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth and 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice. Add 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced, and 1 medium onion, finely chopped. Stir in 2 tablespoons dried basil, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, salt, and ground pepper to taste. Cover and cook on low until the rice is tender, about 8 hours. Makes 6 servings, 1 1/2 cups each.
Pineapple BBQ Flank Steak
Peel and shred 2 medium sweet potatoes and place them in the slow cooker. Lay a 1-pound flank steak, well trimmed, on top. In a large bowl, combine 1 small onion, finely chopped; one 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice; 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth; 1 teaspoon ground dry ginger; 1/4 cup reduced-sodium jarred barbecue sauce; 1 tablespoon honey; 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard; salt; and ground pepper to taste. Pour this mixture over the steak. Cover and cook on high until the steak is tender enough to shred, using two large forks, about 6-7 hours. Makes 4 servings, about 1 cup each.
Drain and rinse two 15-ounce cans pinto beans and place them in the slow cooker. Stir in one 14-ounce can diced tomatoes; 1 medium onion, finely chopped; 1/2 cup water; 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar; 1 tablespoon unsulphured molasses; 1 tablespoon dry mustard; 2 teaspoons liquid smoke; 1 teaspoon celery seed; 1 teaspoon salt; and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder. Cover and cook on low until the flavours have melded, about 8 hours. Makes 6 servings, 3/4 cup each.
Spiced Apple Iced Tea
Thinly slice two Granny Smith apples and place them on the bottom of your slow cooker along with 2 cinnamon sticks and 4 whole cloves. Add 6 Red Zinger or other herbal tea bags and 3 quarts water. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours. Strain and discard the solids. Chill tea and serve over ice. Makes 6 servings, 2 cups each.
Trim the stems off 4 large globe artichokes. Slice one inch off the top of each artichoke, then trim 1/2 inch off the top of each outer leaf. Halve each artichoke through the stem, then scoop out and discard the fuzzy centres. Place the halves in a slow cooker; add enough hot water to cover the artichokes and 1 lemon, thinly sliced. Cover the cooker and cook on high until tender, about 5 hours. Serve hot or cold. Makes 8 servings, ½ artichoke each.
Corn on the Cob
Place 8 ears husked corn in a slow-cooker, cover with warm water, and cook on high for 2 hours. Reduce the heat to low and allow the slow cooker to keep the corn warm until you're ready to eat. Makes 8 servings; one piece of corn per serving.