I'm not going to lie to you and say this dish is quick to put together, because it's not. However, I'm posting it because my in-laws loved it. Given that my F-i-L is usually dismissive of vegetarian food and my M-i-L doesn't like potatoes (yes, I know, what was I thinking?) the fact they both enthusiastically had seconds is a result in itself. It was really delicious.
This is a great example of how the SC doesn't necessarily always save you time but it can shift the cooking time to another more convenient slot, whilst leaving you free to do the hostess (or host) thing. I put the dish together at lunchtime while my toddler napped and I chatted to my mother-in-law and then it chuntered away in the background while we had a happy afternoon relaxing and going for a walk in the woods.
Here's how to make it:
Ingredients for 6:
(If you don't have a 6L or 6 quart slow cooker, you may need to scale down)
6 large baking potatoes, sliced lengthways
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium onions, chopped medium fine
3/4 lb/ 300g mushrooms, chopped
7/8 lb/350g fresh spinach, washed
1 cup/250 g ricotta cheese
250g / 1 cup cheddar or Gruyère, grated
In a large and deep pan, fry the onion in the olive oil. After 5 minutes, add the garlic. Once fragrant, add the mushrooms. Add a little salt and stir well. Once they are throwing off their juices, add the spinach, cover the pan and wait until wilted - about 5 minutes. Then uncover the pan and wait for the liquid to mostly boil off, stirring occasionally. This is what took the time for me. Take the pan off the heat and add the ricotta.
Now grease your slow cooker crock carefully. First put a third of the potatoes in the bottom of the crock. You'll need a few layers. Add half the ricotta and spinach mixture, season, and sprinkle with a third of the cheddar. Repeat. Finally add the last third of potatoes, topped with a final layer of cheddar.
Cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3. It's ready once the potatoes are tender.
Excellent with a glass of red.
This will be made again. It was robust and full of flavour and you never missed the meat. No one flavour dominated but it wasn't bland or uninteresting at all, just very well balanced. It was somehow hearty without being stodgy or as overpoweringly cheesy as some vegetarian dishes can be. We all loved it.
And that was how a meal-planning FAIL turned into a surprise culinary hit!