Though Denver seems to disagree with this abnormally warm weekend we just experienced, we are still in the throes of winter as we edge further into February. There’s nothing better than comfort food to come home to during the dark evenings, when we’re chasing the sun on our commutes home.
Let me introduce you to a new staple on my winter dinner rotation: Slow Cooker Creamy Tomato + Vegetable Quinoa Risotto. I love the simplicity of this dish- chop, dump, and leave it for a few hours until it’s time to stir in the mozzarella.
While this dish may seem decadent as you dig a fork into it, the cup of shredded mozzarella goes a long way in adding the creamy signature element of risotto to a relatively healthy dish you can feel good eating. Protein, fiber, and your daily dose of veggies all in one!
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 stalks of celery
- ½ of a sweet onion
- 1 small zucchini
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 2 c vegetable broth
- Optional: 4 cups fresh spinach
- 1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
- Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.
- Mince the cloves of garlic and dice the red pepper, celery, and onion in a small dice. Slice the zucchini into rounds and then cut into 4 pieces each for larger chunks.
- Add rinsed quinoa, minced garlic, chopped vegetables, marinara sauce, and vegetable broth to the slow cooker.
- Turn the slow cooker on to high and cook for 2.5-3 hours (mine was done at 2 hours and 45 minutes).
- Remove the lid of the slow cooker and stir the quinoa mixture for 5 minutes to allow any extra liquid to evaporate. If adding spinach (not pictured), dice it up a bit and stir it in during this step.
- Turn the slow cooker off and stir in the mozzarella, salt, and pepper until the cheese is fully melted. Adjust spices as necessary.
I have written the recipe per my favorite version, with fresh spinach stirred in at the end – which isn’t pictured in these photos. I recommend it to take this dish to the next level, and stretch a serving into an even bigger bowl of comfort food!
I promise that your body will thank you for turning to quinoa “risotto” and veggies instead of ordering takeout or making a box of mac and cheese, as you won’t feel weighted down or bloated after this warming dish.
I have my friend Kelsey to thank for turning me onto cooking quinoa in the slow cooker – I know this is the beginning of even more experimentation!
Have you cooked quinoa in the slow cooker? What is your favorite winter comfort food dish- and have you tried to health-ify it?