Despite their reputation as a piece of kit that works its way through hard, tough cuts of meat, slow cookers apply a gentle but magic touch to vegetables too – even soft vegetables with a high water content, like mushrooms or aubergines. They’re also one of the best means by which to cook storecupboard pulses like lentils, chickpeas and dried beans. So join us as we show you how to cook vegetarian and vegan dishes in your slow cooker.
If you’re looking to buy a slow cooker or need a replacement for yours, be sure to read our review of the best slow cookers. Also read our pick of the best Black Friday slow cooker deals throughout November for discounts on models tried and tested by BBC Good Food experts.
1. Slow cooker aubergines
Unlike the rich, wintery stews you might associate with slow cooking, this veggie dish sings with summery freshness. The aubergines are dressed with a tangy herb sauce, topped with feta and crunchy almonds and can be served with bread or tossed through fresh pasta.
Try our slow cooker aubergines
2. Slow cooker vegetable stew with cheddar dumplings
Seek the ultimate comfort in this hearty spring stew. It’s packed with seasonal veg and has a creamy sauce and giant cheesey dumplings – perfect for a special Sunday dinner or veggie centrepiece.
3. Slow cooker vegetable lasagne
This luscious yet low calorie lasagne offers all the comfort of the richer version, but packs in five of your 5-a-day! Wholewheat pasta sheets are layered with a medley of vegetables and creamy mozzarella, making for a wholesome and nutritious meal.
Try our slow cooker vegetable lasagne
4. Slow cooker ratatouille
We challenge you to find a more colourful plate of food! With tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and courgettes, this low in fat ratatouiile delivers four of your five-a-day, plus a dose of feel-good nutrients such as vitamin C and folate. Make ahead and store in the freezer for an easy midweek meal.
Try our slow cooker ratatouille
5. Slow cooker vegetable curry
If you fancy a comforting bowl of curry without the normal heaviness, this veg-packed marvel will deliver just the ticket. A mixture of chopped squash, pepper, aubergine and peas are coated in light coconut milk, curry paste, herbs and spices. As well as scoring on flavour, one serving will also bag four of your 5-a-day. Serve with wholemeal flatbreads to mop up all the fragrant juices.
Try our slow cooker vegetable curry
6. Aubergine & chickpea stew
Make the most of storecupboard staples like chickpeas and chopped tomatoes in an aromatic aubergine stew. Baharat – a spice blend widely used in Middle Eastern cooking – brings a special depth and flavour to this vegan dish. Simple flatbreads are a perfect vessel for mopping up the juices.
Try our aubergine & chickpea stew
7. Five-a-day tagine
Get your entire day’s vegetable quota in one easy go with this freezable veg pot. Just to add to its list of credentials, it requires zero pre-cooking, so you can just lob the lot in the slow cooker and leave it to cook for 6-8 hours on low.
Try our super-veg tagine
8. Pasta e fagioli
Meet winter bowl food at its best. Pasta fans will love this hearty, nutritious vegan soup which brings cavolo nero together with beans, brown rice miso and pasta shapes. Come home to a filling stew, and take any leftovers to work the next day.
Try our pasta e fagioli
9. Italian vegetable bake
This meat-free one-pot features layer upon layer or sliced aubergines, courgettes and red peppers. The beauty is in the contrasting crunchy croutons with molten mozzarella, but they can be omitted in favour of rice, couscous or another carb-based accompaniment.
Try our Italian veggie bake
10. Slow cooker dhal
The key to achieving an authentic finish to this slow cooker curry is sourcing black urid beans and ghee, but yellow split peas and butter would work too. Top with crispy fried onions, either from a pot or homemade, and your favourite curry sundries.
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Do you cook veggie or vegan food in a slow cooker? We’d love to hear your recipes…