Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Middle Eastern Slow Cooked Vegetables

This morning I was looking in the refrigerator and thinking about what to make for dinner and ratatouille came to mind. Then I saw Rose’s blog where she had posted Pisto (the Spanish version of ratatouille) yesterday so I decided to do something a little different.

Since I have been on a Middle Eastern food kick recently I decided to stay in that part of the world and make a zucchini, sweet potato and tomato stew in the slow cooker served over millet and topped with a garlic, tahini and tofu mixture.

This recipe is a vegan version of something I have had before that included lamb. I considered adding lentils as a meat substitute but decided not to since I had them for lunch. This vegetable “bake” has a lot of flavor and not many calories or fat.

I prepped the entire meal hours before dinner so all I had to do was reheat it when my sweetie got home. Allowing the food to mellow in the refrigerator results in a more well rounded flavor (at least that is what I think).

The weather on the east coast is brutal today. When the temperature is above 90 I don’t usually want to heat the house up with a stove for long. My slow cooker and microwave came to the rescue today. I par cooked the sweet potatoes in the microwave until I could cut them easily (3 minutes). The stove was used to cook the onions and get the tomato sauce hot but that took less than 10 minutes. Sweet potato slices went into the slow cooker first, followed by the zucchini and then topped with the tomato sauce and golden raisins. I turned the slow cooker on high and set it for 2 hours. Middle Eastern food has the most intoxicating aroma when it is cooking the house smells wonderful. This is my kind of aroma therapy, and we get to eat it for dinner.

Middle Eastern Slow Cooked Vegetables
Serves 6


5 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced with a paring knife
½ tablespoon of canola oil
1 red onion, finely minced
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
½ teaspoon of fennel
½ teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of powdered ginger
4 cloves of garlic, minced (allow to sit 10 minutes so that allicin can develop)
14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
¼ cup of water
½ cup of golden raisins
juice of 1 lemon, to finish the dish when plating - optional but recommended


Microwave the potatoes until they are soft enough to easily slice (my microwave took 3 minutes).

Sauté the onion in the canola oil until it is soft and beginning to brown. Add the spices and garlic and cook them until you can smell the aromas (about 2 minutes). Add the tomatoes and water and cook until you have the sweet potatoes and zucchini in the slow cooker.

Slice the sweet potatoes into approximately ½ inch slices and place in the bottom of your slow cooker. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and then into half moons. I did this to vary the shape of the vegetables so feel free to use any shape you like. Place the zucchini pieces on top the sweet potatoes. Pour the Middle Eastern spiced tomato sauce on top the vegetables in the slow cooker. Top with golden raisins and put the lid on the cooker. Set your cooker to high and cook for 2 hours.

Traditionally a dish like this would be served over couscous but I used millet instead for added nutrition. I also used tofu, garlic and tahini sauce to top the dish. A little fresh lemon juice was also squeezed over the dish to finish

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 176.66
Calories From Fat (9%) - 15.12

Total Fat - 1.74g
Saturated Fat - 0.19g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 73.01mg
Potassium - 816.05mg
Total Carbohydrates - 39.23g
Fiber - 6.01g
Sugar - 14.65g
Protein - 4.01g


This is dish is flavorful and comforting on what ended up being a stormy hot and humid day. It was nice to have a comforting dish to eat so we didn’t need to brave the weather with the severe thunderstorm warning. The flavors of this dish are definitely Middle Eastern yet the dish is still familiar. I love it with the tofu, tahini and garlic topping.

Next time I will cut the vegetables into bite size pieces to make the meal easier to eat. I also think I will add a few sliced almonds to the meal when serving the leftovers. Overall this was very good and flavorful but not spicy or sweet.


  1. i usually have no qualms about mixing different flavors of food, but the sweet potato with tomato sauce sounds different, like the two flavors are both so strong that i wouldnt think it would turn out well. but it looks really good!i am still working on the email back to you i have it saved...im trying to pare it down a bit,lol i went into to much detail about inconsequential things! ttyl.oh today my husband tried some "chezy broccoli" i have been going crazy over it, its just nutritional yeast over steamed broccoli but he said it had a weird aftertaste.... i almost blurted out that it was probably the fungus(trying to be funny) (yeast) that made it taste like that ...but i kept my mouth shut!

  2. Michelle,

    This dish tastes mostly of sweet potato and zucchini with spices, with just a little tomato in the background. The tomato, onion and raisin add a subtle sweetness.

    Nutritional yeast is an acquired taste. I think if you made a sauce with less nutritional yeast and maybe add mustard your husband may like it more. It took Dan and I a while to get used to nutritional yeast so I understand where your husband is coming from.



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