As a very excited new owner of a slow cooker, I hoarded all of these from the library to see which are best before buying any of them. I tend to prefer vegetarian cookbooks in life because they don’t include any weird meat that I don’t like, so for slow cooker recipes, which are traditionally very meat-centric, I wanted to find some interesting vegetarian recipes. Being cooped up during the hurricane actually gave me a chance to read through all of them:
#1) The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Lynn Alley
This is the only of the four books that I plan to purchase, as its recipes feature some more unique combinations of flavors. The book is organized by region: India, Mexico and the Southwest, Asia, Italy, France, Greece, and The Middle East. The recipes are often multi-step (meaning very few read, “throw it all in the crock, push go, and leave for 8 hours”), but I really don’t mind cooking some onions, or preparing a few things in a blender to use more natural ingredients. With “gourmet” in the title, I worried that it would require crazy expensive ingredients, but it all seems doable. Tonight’s meal from this book is Butternut Squash in Green Curry Sauce, and the only two ingredients we didn’t already have were cilantro and coconut milk.
It also doesn’t hurt that it’s a beautiful book with appealing photos (112 pages long).
#3) Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, by Robin Robertson
I enjoyed reading the introductory “slow cooker basics” chapter in this one, as it has some valuable information about slow cookers, including “Ten Quick Tips for Slow-Cooking Success” that I took note of (Tip 1: Each time you open the lid, you lose 20 minutes of cooking time!).
Recipes are organized by type: Appetizers and Snacks, Soups and Chowders, Chilis and Stews, Beans and Grains, Potpies, Pastas, and Other Main Dishes, The Stuffing and the Stuffed, Vegetables, Condiments, Desserts, Breakfast and Bread, and Hot Drinks.
This was my 3rd favorite of the 4 books, and seems pretty good, particularly the soups section. The hot drinks chapter looked pretty good, but didn’t contain anything I couldn’t find pretty easily online as a non-slow cooker recipe. Many of the recipes include meat substitutes (tofu, vegetarian burger crumbles, vegetarian sausage), and I don’t love cooking with these, since I would much rather avoid processed foods than avoid meat.
Also, no pictures. 261 pages. I’m meh about it; any of the soups are probably covered in the Test Kitchen book, which I prefer.
#2) Slow Cooker Revolution, by The Editors at America’s Test Kitchen
This is my #2 out of the four, and is a solid slow cooker resource. We love America’s Test Kitchen’s Family Cookbook for the very best versions of the basics, and this seems just as strong. Since each recipe is tested to perfection, many include extra tricks like putting certain ingredients into aluminum foil to keep them from overcooking.
Organized by type, the sections are: Soups; Stews; Braises; Chilis; Barbecue Favorites and More; Pasta Sauces; Meatballs, Meatloaves, and More; Enchiladas, Tacos, and More; Casseroles; On the Side; Eggs and Brunch; Desserts; and Basics.
I decided to scan a few of the best-looking recipes instead of buying this whole book, but ended up PDFing almost the entire Soups and Stews sections. Also, baked ziti from a slow cooker?! Depending on how much I use these recipes, I’ll probably end up buying this one down the line, because I do trust that these are the best versions of the classic meals featured.
It has great full-color no-nonsense photos, with their usual mix of pro-tip photo illustrations.
#4) Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, by Stephanie O-Dea
I really wanted to love this one, because it’s based on the blog, crockpot365 that has been my goto resource since we got the slow cooker earlier this month, but I don’t. It has a lot of recipes, many of which are typical Middle America recipes adapted for slow cooker, and I don’t usually want to cook recipes like this (ie: barbecue beans and hot dogs, pizza soup, chicken nuggets). This is great for someone cooking to feed a family quickly and on the cheap that doesn’t mind cooking with Velveeta cheese, but unfortunately isn’t what I was looking for.
There really are a lot of recipes, though, and they are all gluten-free. No photos so they can have 440 pages of recipes and keep it affordable.
In conclusion, both the Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker and the America’s Test Kitchen book are worth adding to your library. I think I’ll also check out Lynn Alley’s original slow cooker cookbook, The Gourmet Slow Cooker.