Slow cooked squashed and baked stew

I’m a full-grown man, with actual friends, but I don’t mind admitting I love my slow cooker. I love the idea of slow cooked food, all those flavours, spices, herbs and goodness gently fusing and coming together over hours and hours, the meat or veg falling apart as it’s so drunk on flavour… perfect. The only problem is that I’m not all that well organised and I’m very impatient, but that doesn’t stop me trying.

This weekend we got back after a night out in Brighton and decided a stew was in order. Be warned this is one of those dishes I make up as I go and tends to be full of stuff I grab from my cupboards.  It gets chucked in as I get a bit animated in the kitchen so it may not be conventional or proper but it tasted damn good so who cares.

Hurry up slow cooked veggie stew

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 2 carrots
  • Bundle of shallots
  • At least 3 cloves of garlic
  • Good handful of mushrooms
  • 3 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • Tomato puree
  • Can of butter beans
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried rosemary
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Spoonful of Boullion
  • Fresh basil to garnish

Chop the garlic and peel the shallots but keep them whole. Add a bit of oil to the already hot slow cook and throw them in. Next prep the squash, this takes a while but is worth it. Cut it into big chunks and in it goes. Peel the carrots and chop, I cut them on the diagonal making big slices and not just big thick blocks, but go with your heart on this one! Add the carrots, a spoonful of boullion and a decent covering of the dried herbs, including a proper dusting of the cayenne pepper which gives it a nice (bit not blow your head off) kick. Pour over the chopped toms and get it all mixed up, drop in a healthy dose of tomato puree, tasting to get the right depth of flavour. If your slow cooker is anything like mine it will already be pretty packed. Put the lid on and let it do its thing for as long as you can stomach.

If you are like me (impatient and hungry) I couldn’t wait several hours, so I lifted the ceramic pot out of the cooker and chucked it in the oven instead. Warning, if you are doing this please check the lid of your pot does not have a plastic handle. Mine does and it’s a bit wonky now.

Once the sauce is bubbling nicely, take out of the oven and add the butter beans and mushrooms. I put it back in the actual slow cooker at this point to finish. I didn’t do this but I think it’s worth taking the lid off for a bit, mine was a touch watery and could have done with some cooking down, we live and we learn. For good measure I added a glug of balsamic vinegar and mixed it around. Stick something pointy in a piece of squash, if it slides through like butter, you’re in business. Serve with rice and crusty bread or mash or just on its own and garnish with some fresh basil.

'Sort of' slow cooked veggie stew

‘Sort of’ slow cooked veggie stew

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