The Cottage Smallholder

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The slow cooker chef: low fat summer vegetable and bean casserole recipe

vegetarian summer bean casseroleSo many vegetarian recipes are high in fat with an emphasis on cheese and eggs. These ingredients can pull a flagging recipe round in seconds. We sometimes eat these dishes – the cheese and eggs make tham tasty, I’m cooking for an alpha carnivore foodie after all.

Last night I woke at three a.m. and mulled. Surely, with a bit of thought, I could make veggie food that’s low fat and delicious.

This morning I opened an eye to the promise of thunderstorms. I was suddenly kitchen bound as I’m working on an outside job at the moment. So I decided to try and create a good veggie recipe that was virtually fat free.

The slow cooker (crock pot) makes low fat cooking a doddle. There is no need to fry onions or even touch a bottle of cooking oil. All you need is time. The casserole took about six hours to cook so if you are out a work you would need to set your timer for seven hours and set the dial to auto. The extra hour will allow all the ingredients to heat up. The turtle beans are tasty, albeit tough beans. Well worth the wait.

The combination of beans and vegetables can create a wintry sort of flavour. I’ve finally twigged that if you add fresh finely chopped vegetables such as bell peppers or tomatoes and some fresh herbs a few minutes before serving, the dish suddenly has much more pizzazz. The fresh clean flavours and colours balance the mellowness of the slow cooked beans and vegetables. The transforamtion is incredible.

The side dishes make an enormous difference too. I served this with a herby couscous (having read Mark Hix’s take on tabbouleh in The Independent on Saturday) and a cucumber, garlic, spring onion and mint raita (run up in seconds in the Magimix) and stirred into a creamy sheep’s yoghurt (5.8g of fat per 100g and worth every gram). Incidentally, Mark Hix also smokes meat in a casserole dish – and the method is in the link above!

Although I’m enjoying our vegetarian adventure, meat is often in my thoughts. Just as I was thinking that some tender slices of pink lamb would be perfect with the summer bean casserole, Danny reached for the ladle and said.
“When you cook like this I don’t miss meat. All three dishes would be fine on their own but the combination is astounding.”

He’s right. Often a blob of veggie goodness on a heap of rice just doesn’t tempt and tantalise.

The slow cooker chef: low fat summer vegetable and bean casserole recipe (4-6 hungry portions)


For the casserole:

  • 100g of black turtle beans (soaked for ten hours)
  • 100g of black eye beans (soaked for ten hours)
  • 50g of small brown lentils
  • 50g of red lentils
  • 400 ml of vegetable stock (boiling water and 2 tsp of vegetable stock powder). This may need to be topped up if the beans are getting to dry
  • 200ml of passata
  • 1-2 fat cloves of garlic – chopped fine
  • 0.5 tsp of smoked papricka
  • 2 heaped tsp of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp of mushroom ketchup
  • 1 tsp of Lea and Perrins
  • 1 tsp of mixed Italian herbs
  • 10g of dried onions reconstituted in boiling water
  • 100g of bell pepper diced
  • 200g of courgettes diced
  • Several twists of ground black pepper
  • 0.5 tsp of ground mace

Fresh tomato and herb topping (add ten minutes before the end of cooking time):

  • 4 baby plum tomatoes – chopped
  • A handful of fresh chopped coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Put all the casserole ingredients in the slow cooker. Switch to auto. Six hours later add the topping ingredients and season to taste. Serve with ultra herby couscous and loads of fresh raita.

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  1. kittyboo

    Mmm, this looks delicious. We’re planning on getting a slow cooker soon and I’ll definitely be making this when we do. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Joanna

    Great to know that it was all ‘low fat’ having indulged in a super high fat breakfast this morning!

    Seriously though, your site is such an inspiration that I often imagine how you would approach a meal to reduce the fat. If we eat no fat we can indulge once in a while.

    Hi Belinda

    Thanks for this. We also eat bulgar wheat (burghul?) and have it in the larder (bought from the food cooperative!)

    I trust Mark Hix – his recipes are good and they work. So didn’t bother to cross check but will do so from now on.

  3. Belinda

    Dont want to go all righteous foodie on you, but having grown up with loads of Lebanese neighbours, I think I can say with authority that tabouleh is NOT made with couscous, but with burghul (cracked wheat)

    If you cant find a middle eastern market, you should be able to get it from a food co-op or health food store. He is right about the ratio though. Tabouleh should be green with white (and red)flecks, not the other way around.

  4. Mmm … and I’m very envious of the lovely goat yoghurt – I haven’t seen that in our part of the world. Btw, 5% fat is officially low-fat food – although who decides these things I don’t know. So that makes your dinner v lean, even with the “indulgence” of the raita.

    Thanks for sharing

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