By Nancy Olah
I used to think that I got more use from my slow cooker in the winter.
But with temperatures hitting 100 almost every day here in the Carolinas, I find myself reaching for my slow cooker several times a week.
I love keeping my kitchen cool – and with just a bit of advance planning during the day, I can have a healthy hot meal for my family at dinnertime.
There’s even good research that shows that drinking hot beverages can actually cool you off during sultry weather – so why not a hot meal?
I recently revamped one of my classic eastern European favorites (Sweet and Sour Cabbage with Tofurky Kielbasa) by using Tofurky’s Chick’n & Apple Sausage, adding more Granny Smith apples and carrots to the purple cabbage, and using organic buckwheat groats as my healthy gluten-free “grain.”
Since I’ve been trying to cut back a bit on my wheat consumption, buckwheat (despite its name) is wheat-free.
Are you surprised that buckwheat doesn’t contain wheat?
Well, the buckwheat plant is actually part of the rhubarb family, and the tiny groats are the gluten-free seeds of the buckwheat plant. I usually use the Bob’s Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Groats, and would direct you to World’s Healthiest Foods for nutritional info about this under-rated food that looks and acts like a grain – but isn’t!
Since I haven’t found a really good gluten-free sausage yet, I need to share that the Tofurky sausages contain vital wheat gluten, tofu, and wheat berries. So, unfortunately this meal is not completely gluten-free, unless you’d like to just have the sweet and sour cabbage with the buckwheat groats – which might be an excellent alternative for people who need to eliminate all sources of wheat.
So, instead of facing the prospect of another boring salad at the end of a long day at work, with just a bit of advance planning, you can come home to a delicious, filling, and healthy hot vegan meal.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium organic red onion, chopped
- 1 medium organic red cabbage, cored, very thinly sliced, and finely chopped.
- 6-7 organic carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks
- 2-3 large organic Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 3 Tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ¼ cup white wine or vermouth
- ¼ cup stock
- 2 Tablespoons agave syrup
- 4 Tofurky Chick'n & Apple Sausage (14-ounce package), each sausage sliced on the diagonal in 1 inch chunks
- 1 cup buckwheat groats
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten (optional) and/or 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
- 2 cups boiling water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- If you're using the Cuisine Cook Central Slow Cooker (or a similar unit that allows you to sauté), turn the unit to sauté and set the temperature to 275 degrees. (If not, heat up a large skillet.)
- Heat the oil and sauté the onion for about 4–5 minutes. Add the red cabbage and carrots and cook for 8 minutes. Add the chopped apples, and stir in the vinegar to keep the apples from browning. Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and caraway seeds.
- In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch, wine, stock, and brown sugar. Season with a little more sea salt and pepper. If your cabbage is not already in the slow cooker, put it in, and then pour with liquid mixture over the cabbage. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
- About 20 minutes before you are ready to serve, slice your sausage and begin to make the buckwheat groats.
- Using an egg to make the kasha (buckwheat groats) is totally optional - to make this vegan just leave it out when you toast the buckwheat groats and use the walnut or olive oil instead. If you eat eggs and want to add one, just lightly beat the egg and add the buckwheat groats, stirring to coat them thoroughly before cooking.
- Get a nonstick skillet fairly hot, and add the oil (if you are not using an egg). Toast the buckwheat groats (with or without the egg) for about 4-5 minutes. If you are using an egg, all of the egg should be thoroughly cooked and the buckwheat groats should look dry and toasty.
- 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 5-7 minutes. During that final 5-7 minutes, add your sausage pieces to your sweet and sour cabbage and heat through.
- Adjust seasonings and serve.
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