Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians.
One challenge my wife and I take on (and something that I post about in this series roughly once a month) is the challenge of converting unusual recipes into something that’s delicious straight out of the crock pot.
Many people look at a crock pot as a device for cooking roasts and stews, nothing more, nothing less. That’s simply not true. You can prepare all kinds of meals in it, setting them up in the morning and enjoying them when you walk in the door in the evening. They’re perfect for busy families who love home-cooked meals but often are severely time-challenged.
This time around, we’re preparing a couscous dish right in the crock pot.
What You Need
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/4 cup onion, minced (or 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes)
2 carrots, chopped
1 large tomato, diced or 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked chickpeas or 1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, cooked
1/4 cup vegetable stock or 1 vegetable boullion cube
1 tablespoon garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/3 cup raisins
The couscous is actually prepared separately. You’ll need 1 cup dry couscous and 2 cups water to prepare it.
The Night Before (or Early That Day)
Most of the work for a dish like this is done in the morning. You’ll need to do any vegetable preparation you need to do, first of all.
Next, use nonstick cooking spray on the inside of the crock pot (or thoroughly rub the insides of the crock pot with vegetable oil). Add all of the ingredients except for the couscous and water to the crock pot and turn it on low for six to eight hours.
Preparing the Meal
When you’re ready to eat, get a saucepan out and boil 2 cups of water in it. While the heat is raising, stir the ingredients in the crock pot, then turn it off and let it sit.
When the water is boiling, add the couscous to the water, put the lid on, and let it boil for five minutes. The couscous should absorb the water. After the cooking, you can optionally add a teaspoon of butter or margarine to the couscous, mixing it in with a fork.
Mix the couscous with the other ingredients in the crock pot, then serve! We served it with a very simple salad and it was quite delicious (I had seconds).
Unlike many of the recipes I post, I wouldn’t modify this recipe very much at all. This dish relies a lot on the flavor balance between the ingredients, so if you’re interested in this recipe, I’d stick to the ingredients as closely as possible.