Slow cookers are not just for winter meals



I bought a lovely organic cabbage at the farmers market a couple of weeks ago with the intention of making coleslaw.

When I found the aging cabbage in the bottom of my produce bin the other day (remember, I have three refrigerators), I knew that my only viable option was to use it in a cooked dish.

Even though it is springtime in the Carolinas, I decided to remake Autumn in Eastern Europe, a recipe from Fool a Carnivore, with a goal of streamlining and simplifying its preparation.

A lot of folks think that slow cookers are only for the winter meals – but I actually love slow cookers for hotter days when I don’t want to light the oven or slave over my gas stove top.

In re-thinking the recipe, I cut at least ten minutes off the prep time, and by cooking it on high, it was done in three hours instead of the 6-8 hours on low. I love my Cuisinart Cook Central Multi-Cooker because it allows me to save time by  sautéing my onions directly in the slow cooker, which eliminates a skillet to clean.  Also, its non-stick coating means no more liners!

Here are the other changes I made to my original recipe. I cut down on the calories by using organic vegetable stock instead of the apple cider, and reduced the brown sugar. I didn’t peel the apples and shredded them instead of  chopping them up. I increased the dill and caraway, adding half at the outset and half at the end, which improved the flavor. Lastly, I decided there was no need to grill the Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage. I just cut each sausage in half (or you could quarter them) and added them during the last fifteen minutes while I was make the kasha (buckwheat groats).

Many people have never tasted kasha or buckwheat groats. Although “wheat” is part of  its name, it is gluten-free and not a grain. Buckwheat is part of the rhubarb family (who knew?) and the groats are technically its fruit. Buckwheat contains rutin, which helps to helps to lower high blood pressure when taken with vitamin C. (How about some lovely citrus fruits for dessert, anyone?) Buckwheat is a complex carb so its sugars absorb very slowly making it a great dish for people who need to watch their glucose levels. Lastly, it is very high in fiber. If you suffer from constipation, consider incorporating buckwheat into your diet – you’ll be glad you did!

To put some color on the plate, I added beets. I’m the only person in my family who truly adores beets – but even my non-beet lovers agreed that vanilla extract, raspberry balsamic vinegar, sesame oil, and fresh mint combine to make my chilled beet salad something memorable.

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Autumn in Eastern Europe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
The hearty, Eastern European style of cooking can be "different" to our American palates. I think it provides a wonderful way to eat with the seasons. Cabbage is abundant year round, but it's never better than in the fall. Find a local farmer who grows cabbage without pesticides. Even if it is not labeled organic, you will be in for a healthy, delicious, and inexpensive treat. I paired the cabbage with golden delicious apples cooked with apple cider in my slow cooker, Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage, and kasha (cooked buckwheat groats). If you can’t find Field Roast in your stores, a package of Tofurky Kielbasa will also work well.
Recipe type: Slow Cooker Meals
Cuisine: Eastern European
Serves: 4
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium head of green or red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 organic Granny Smith apples, shredded
  • 1 cup of organic vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (preferably Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • 5 tablespoons fresh dill weed, finely chopped (divided use)
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds (divided use)
  • 1 package Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausage, casings removed and cut in half or quartered
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter or non-dairy spread (optional)
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Heat the olive oil in your slow cooker and sauté the red onion. Add the finely chopped cabbage and sauté a few minutes more. Add the shredded apples, stock, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, half the dill and caraway and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
  2. Twenty minutes before you’re ready to eat, at the Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausages to the slow cooker, and turn it to low while you make your kasha.
  3. Melt the butter or non-dairy spread in a cast iron skillet – or just spray it with cooking spray. Beat the egg in a small bowl, and add the buckwheat groats. Cook in the hot skillet for 3–4 minutes, and add 2 cups boiling water. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes over low heat. After 15 minutes, add a little sea salt to taste and stir. Turn off the heat and leave covered for another 3–5 minutes.
  4. Put some sausage on each plate, along with a healthy amount of the cabbage-apple mixture and the kasha. If you eat dairy, this dish is also good with a dollop of sour cream and delicious with my minty beet and vanilla salad.
© 2015 Nancy Olah. All Rights Reserved.


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