Veggies, Meet Crockpot

A couple of weeks ago, I was putting together a meal in my crockpot when the lid slipped from my hands and broke into two pieces, rendering it completely useless! I managed to cobble together a somewhat pathetic covering for my the stoneware, but the resulting dish didn't cook properly. A new lid was quickly procured from the manufacturer and I got a lesson in how much I've come to rely on this kitchen tool.

It's rare that a week goes by without me using my crockpot and, when the weather gets colder, that can increase to as often as five times a week. It's really hard to argue with an appliance that patiently cooks your food until it's deliciously tender and deeply seasoned throughout.

Since it's starting to get chilly enough outside that I get inside and am shivering and sometimes need to brush snow from my brow, it's also becoming the time of year when I am looking to my crockpot more and more to put comfort food on my table without requiring me to fuss over the stove for hours. Over the next few days, I'll be sharing some of my favorite crockpot recipes. I hope you'll find some become your favorites, too.

We begin with a vegetable chili that I love to make in the late fall. It's really common for me to have lots of pumpkin and/or butternut squash on hand, so including some of that in my chili gives it a nice fall touch and the natural sweetness pairs incredibly well with the spices and peppers in this dish. I like making corn bread to serve alongside it and leftovers can be fun to serve over baked russet or sweet potatoes for a simple dinner.

Crockpot Veggie Chili

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, undrained
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, undrained
  • 2 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo (can be found in the ethnic section of some supermarkets and at Latin markets), minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 cups pumpkin or butternut squash puree
  • Sour cream, for garnish (optional)
  • Coarsely grated cheese, for garnish (optional)
  • Diced red onion, for garnish (optional)

Coat the bottom of a 6-quart crockpot with the oil. Layer the next six ingredients (chopped onion through garbanzo beans) over the oil. Combine the minced chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt to make a paste. Stir the paste into the pureed pumpkin or squash and add that to the top of the layered vegetables and legumes in the crockpot.

Turn the crockpot on LOW and cook for 5-7 hours. Stir well before serving. Use sour cream, grated cheese, and diced red onion for garnishing, if desired.

  • Yields: 10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 6 hours