Slow cookers are great for all seasons: in the summer to keep the kitchen from heating up, in the winter to provide a heavier meal, in the spring to experiment with seasonal veggies, and in the fall to make stews from the root veggies that are in season. As well, the great part of the slow cooker is that you can set it and then go to work while your meal is cooking for when you come home. The Mediterranean Slow Cooker Cookbook by Diane Phillips gives you these opportunities but with a Mediterranean flair. With ethnic food becoming trendier, foodies will love this cookbook.
For the purpose of the review, we are asked to test three recipes. The first recipe I tested was “Grecian Seafood Stew.” I not only love stews but I do like Greek food, so I thought this would be an ideal recipe and it was. The flavors were awesome and came from garlic, onion, oregano, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and juice, white wine, and seafood stock. The seafood consisted of swordfish, shrimp, octopus, and clams. Served over orzo with a green side salad, there was very little left over (eaten by only the two of us). The stew is to serve six to eight people. I was afraid the shrimp would become tough and rubbery because of the length of cooking but to my surprise, they were tender. I will be making this again. (If you don’t like octopus or can’t find it, I’m sure the seafood market in your local grocery store can suggest a good substitute.)
The second recipe I tested was “Lamb Stuffed with Artichokes and Braised in Lemon and White Wine.” I always make lamb in a slow cooker but only use garlic, rosemary, and red wine along with salt and pepper. I was excited to try something different. Although the preparation took a little more time than usual, it was well worth it. Using the frozen artichoke hearts made it easy to prepare the stuffing. Dijon mustard, garlic, tarragon, and lemon were added to make the stuffing very flavorful. The liquid used was a dry white wine. The end result was a very fork-tender lamb loin and the stuffing was very complementary. I served the dish with Yukon Gold mashers and steamed green beans. Wow! The meal was extremely good and full of flavor. I will be making this lamb dish again.
For the third recipe, I chose “Spinach and Ricotta Manicotti.” I’ve never made a pasta dish in a slow cooker before so thought this would be a good time to test it. I cooked the manicotti the usual way and made the filling of garlic, baby spinach, salt/pepper, nutmeg, ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The sauce was made from butter, garlic, flour, chicken broth, heavy cream, percorino romano cheese and Tabasco. I first put a small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pot and then placed the stuffed manicotti on top; this was alternated until all was used up. The instructions said cooking time should be three hours on high or five to six hours on low. I chose the low setting because I was afraid on high the manicotti might fall apart. The dish was very tasty and rich, and baked very nicely. (They didn’t fall apart!) I served the dish with a green side salad.
Mediterranean flavors are among my favorites so I know I will be making more dishes from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker Cookbook by Diane Phillips. As I browsed through the book, I noted the simplicity of ingredients and I am sure most can be found in the kitchen pantry and certainly at the local grocery store. If you are into using slow cookers, or about to embark on using one, I encourage you to use this cookbook. The minimalism of ingredients in the recipes will have you wanting to make more. Recommended!