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Healthy, simple slow cooker meals for summertime

June 10, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Known for making hearty soups and stews, chef Pam Reims now utilizes the slow cooker for summer food, which she finds surprisingly simple.

"What I have learned recently is that there are a lot of very clean, light dishes you can make in the slow cooker and it really benefits the end product," said Reims. "They're great for entertaining, they're great for potlucks, they're very low stress."

To prove the point, she used the slow cooker to whip up pesto salmon, quinoa salad and herb garlic artichokes.

Normally, artichokes steam up the kitchen for hours. But with a slow cooker and in flavorful broth, you'll find the even heat makes it easy. She then glams them up with bread crumbs, herbs and garlic topping, which can be finished in the broiler.

The same goes for quinoa. After a few hours in the slow cooker with some broth, she mixes the quinoa with kale or arugula, baby tomatoes, cucumber, nuts, seeds and lemon vinaigrette for a Mediterranean salad.

A key point to slow cooking is having a plan not only when you're going to plug in, but in terms of cooking time.

"You may not have the luxury of getting everything together first thing in the morning, coming home from work and having it done," said Reims.

Both the artichokes and quinoa can cook slow and low, but the pesto salmon cooks in about one hour on high.

Don't worry, these are all dishes that can be held overnight even a few days in the fridge.

"By letting them sit in your refrigerator for several hours or overnight once it's completed, it also helps the end flavor," said Reims.


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