Crock pot meals are a favorite this time a year: they offer flexibility at meal time since you don’t have to worry about the pot roast burning or the soup boiling dry; you can make hearty meals that will help fuel a hardworking body for hours; and crock pot recipes usually require minimal prep time.
Minimizing time in the kitchen is key for busy farm wives, who drive the combine or haul grain carts during harvest and work in town. They’re also perfect for non-farming mamas like me, who are busy chauffeuring kids between football practice and gymnastics lessons, 4-H meetings and Scout activities.
So, you can imagine how delighted I was when I visited the Nelsen family last week in southern Minnesota last week and came home with two easy-to-make, nutrition-packed recipes. Pasta Fazula Soup is a Nelsen family favorite. Shirley Nelsen got the recipe a few winters ago while visiting her sister in Texas, and it’s become a go-to meal. This meal is such a hit that her son, Patrick, requested she “teach” his fiancée, Jody, how to make it.
“There isn’t much to teaching someone how to make Pasta Fazula Soup,” says Shirley with a smile. “All you really do is dump a bunch of canned items – plus a few fresh ingredients – into a crock pot. It’s a great harvest-time recipe and also freezes well.”
Shirley, who has worked for 27 years at the Hy-Vee food store in Austin, Minn., also told me about a recipe that the store’s nutritionist recently shared with her for Sweet Potatoes with Black Bean Salad. It doesn’t sound like something a Midwest family would traditionally serve at mealtime, but it certainly sounds like a great way to (1) get out of a food rut and (2) provide a satisfying last-minute supper. For those two reasons alone, I believe it’s worth having a few sweet potatoes on hand.
“The fragrant filling of beans and tomatoes adds protein,” writes Jen Haugen, registered dietitian at the Hy-Vee store in Austin, Minn., in The Austin Daily Herald’s food column. “Be sure to eat the potato skin, which is full of fiber, as well.”
Pasta Fazula Soup
All you need:
- 1 to 2 pounds hamburger, browned
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1, 16-oz can of peeled tomatoes
- 1 or 2 cans of diced Rotel® (two makes it spicer, the way the Nelsen’s like it)
- 1 or 2 cans of pinto or ranch beans
- 3 cans of minestrone soup
All you do:
Rinse each can with ¼ can of water and add that liquid to your pot. Simmer for 2 or 3 hours.
COOK’S TIP: This is a great harvest-time recipe. All you have to do is put it in the crock pot and then take it out to the field. It also freezes well.
Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad
Serves 4 (1 potato each)
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
All you need:
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 1, 15-oz. can black beans (rinsed)
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- ¾ tsp. salt
- ¼ c. reduced-fat sour cream
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
All you do:
- Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on high until tender all the way to the center, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, bake at 425º for about 1 hour.)
- Meanwhile, in a medium microwaveable bowl, combine beans, tomatoes, oil, cumin, coriander and salt; microwave on high until just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. (Alternatively, heat in a small saucepan over medium heat.)
- When cool enough to handle, slash each potato lengthwise. Press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.