Becky Rosenthal is a recipe developer and food photographer in Salt Lake City, where she and her husband run a coffee company called Charming Beard. They recently wrote their first cookbook together, Salt Lake City Chef’s Table (released in January 2015), and look forward to finding more ways to work together as a family. Becky shares her family recipes on The Vintage Mixer. Most of her family’s meals are seasonal, local and healthy with the occasional splurge. Becky can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
I didn’t use to be a slow cook-er. But after having my first child, I quickly adopted this modern marvel. At first, it was hard for me to find healthy recipes or recipes not heavy on meat using the slow cooker, but after some experimenting I’ve figured out how to adapt some of my family favorites to be made in the slow cooker like risotto, vegetable curry, cheesy chicken with broccoli, and spicy lentils for tacos. My slow cooker is now being put to use weekly, sometimes several times a week.
The best part about unlocking the slow cooker mystery is having more time with my family. Nap time is a great time to put everything into the slow cooker. Then in the late afternoon, my husband and I love to take our little boy to the park so he can run free, take a few turns down the slide and fly high in the kiddy swing before we settle in for the evening. We head out to the park around 5pm and our dinner awaits us when we return around 6pm. And if it’s chilly outside, a warm, slow-cooked recipe makes for a comforting dinner.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Risotto
- 4-5 cups cubed butternut squash
- 1 Tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 2 shallots, diced
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Toss cubed butternut squash with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the butternut squash for 25 minutes, then flip the squash and roast for another 10 minutes or until it starts to brown. (This can be done a day in advance.)
- Meanwhile, heat the slow cooker to LOW and add the rice, shallots, 1 tablespoon of oil, broth and thyme. Cook on low for 4 hours. Check after 3 hours to see if additional liquid (water or broth) should be added; stir.
- Before serving, puree 1/3 of the roasted squash cubes in a blender or food processor (You may need to add a little water if you’re using a blender.) and stir this into the risotto. Add the Parmesan cheese; stir.
- Serve the risotto with the remaining squash (Reheat in oven as needed.) and additional Parmesan.
If you know risotto, you know it likes to be stirred. Normally, slow cooker recipes are completely hands off, which you can do with this recipe. But, if you happen to be around the house, I would give this a few stirs after 2 hours and again after 3 hours. Again, this is not necessary, but it will help the rice cook evenly and prevent it from getting stuck on the bottom or sides of the slow cooker.
For the cook who is busy all day but wants a home-cooked dinner at night, a slow cooker is the answer. And with the Set & Forget® Programmable Slow Cooker, technology takes a big leap forward from the outdated slow cookers found in yesterday’s kitchens.