This slow cooker lentil stew, spiced with aromatic harissa paste, will warm you up on the cool autumn or winter evenings. It’s easy, hearty and busting with vegetables and flavour. Vegan and gluten-free.
I love a good warming stew. When the weather draws in and the nights get shorter, I crave it. I want big bowls of hot vegetables, thick with their own sauce. And I want gently spiced one-pot dishes. I want to be warmed from the inside out.
That’s where this slow cooker lentil stew comes in. You could substitute many vegetables so it’s a great way to reduce food waste and use up your vegetable box.
The cumin and harissa paste enliven the vegetables and pack this simple vegan crock pot casserole to full of aromatic flavours. It’s nourishing, filling and fragrant. Perfect on its own or mopped up with fresh bread.
Using a Crock Pot means you can add the ingredients in the morning, and return from work to the air in the house dancing with spice. It’s such a flexible and stress-free way to prepare a meal! Plus, I love how a slow cooker makes like so easy. You can ignore it all day while it makes everything extra delicious. I love it for stew, but also my slow cooker chocolate beetroot cake (not vegan).
What’s in this slow cooker lentil stew?
Onion and garlic
Harissa paste (spicy North African paste usually found in the ethnic aisle of most major supermarkets. Rose harissa works well too)
Green lentils (feel free to use red lentils instead)
Savoy cabbage (the wrinkly one – but you could use any cabbage or kale)
Most of the ingredients are store cupboard staples, but this recipe is very flexible, so feel free to make substitutions. That’s one of the great things about slow cooker casseroles, they’re endlessly adaptable. If you use the cumin and harissa paste, it will still taste similar if you substitute parsnips, kale and red lentils.
What is harissa?
Harissa is a hot and spicy condiment paste traditional to North Africa and the Middle East, particularly found in Tunisia and Morocco. It’s normally a blend of red peppers, dried red chilles, garlic, cumin and caraway, plus a mixture of other spices that might include rose petals.
Different brands will all have different mixes, so some may be hotter than others, or perhaps sweeter, spicier or have rose notes in it.
How do you use Harissa?
Harissa is spicy, aromatic and adds a complex depth of flavour to many dishes. There are many ways to use it:
- Add flavour to soups and stews
- A marinade or rub for meat or vegetables
- Add extra punch to tomato-based sauces
- Mix with oil on roasted vegetables or potatoes
- Swirled into cooked couscous
Harissa is quite spicy, so start with just a little and add more if you like it hot. Rather than just heat for heat’s sake, harissa brings many other flavours along with it making it not just hot, but truly, fragrantly, warming.
What is a substitute for harissa paste?
Harissa is available in the ethnic section of major supermarkets, but if you can’t find it you could try to make your own or substitute it with chili paste or your favourite hot sauce. If you still want that typical harissa flavour, you could add a pinch of ground cumin and caraway to the chilli paste.
Vegan Slow Cooker Recipes
If you’re looking for other vegan Crock pot recipes try my red lentil dahl, kale and ale stew or Spanish beans in tomatoes. They’re all easy to make on the stove top, but add the ingredients to a slow cooker and they’ll be extra flavourful. Recipes From A Pantry’s caponata recipe (aubergine/eggplant stew) would also be great in a slow cooker. I made it for dinner last night and it’s delicious!
Step 1: sautee the chopped veggies and add cumin.
Step 2: add the tomatoes, stock, lentils, tomato puree and harissa paste. Give it a stir, set the slow cooker and leave it to allow it to turn into casserole goodness. It’s that easy!
Get the recipe for Vegan Slow Cooker Lentil Stew with Harissa
If you make this vegan crock pot casserole recipe, please tag it with #veggiedesserts on Instagram or other social media. I LOVE seeing your recreations of my recipes. I work hard to bring you creative vegetable cake recipes, as well as vegetarian and vegan recipes and vegan desserts.
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 medium carrots, finely diced
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 sticks of celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1-2 tsp harissa paste (depending on how spicy you want it)
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 x 400g/15oz cans chopped tomatoes
- 750ml (3¼ cups) vegetable stock
- 500g (2½ cups) green lentils, rinsed & drained
- ½ savoy cabbage, shredded
- small handful of fresh baby spinach leaves
- zest of 1 lemon
- salt & pepper
- fresh parsley or coriander/cilantro, roughly chopped
- Heat the oil in a large pan or Crock-Pot sauté pot and sauté the carrots, onions and celery without colouring until softened.
- Stir in the garlic and cumin and continue to sauté for a further 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Transfer the contents to the removable Crock-Pot bowl if sautéing in a pan.
- Add the harissa, tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, lentils and stock, and stir well
- Cover and cook on Low for 7-8 hours or High for 6-7 hours.
- hour before the end of the cooking time, stir in the shredded cabbage and continue to cook until the end of the chosen time.
- Add the spinach, lemon zest, seasoning and herbs, and serve.
- This recipe freezes beautifully.
I made this recipe in my 5.7 litre Crock Pot slow cooker. It’s a perfect large size for a family and this model even has a hinged lid. You can lift the lid and serve straight from the bowl, but when you just want to stir, the hinge means you don’t drip water on the counter. It just drips straight back into the bowl – clever idea! The bowl is also dishwasher safe, so not only is cooking in it easy, but the clean up is as well!The enclosed recipe booklet shows how versatile a slow cooker is, with recipes for everything from soup and curry to enchiladas and tagines. There are also recipes for puddings and porridge.
Since October is the peak season for slow cooking, you can follow along on social media using #Crocktober! You’ll find loads of blogger recipes and inspiration to pull out your Crock Pot and get cooking.
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Disclosure: This CrockPot recipe for slow cooker lentil stew with harissa is sponsored by Crock-Pot. Thanks for supporting the brands that make it possible for me to write Veggie Desserts. I blog about vegetable cake, healthy vegetarian and vegan recipes and more.