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Most omnivores associate crockpots with roasts, gently cooked until the meat falls apart in tender chunks, impregnated with a silky sauce. As a (mostly) non-meat eater, I still like to use my crockpot to create mouth-watering comfort foods like the five-layer vegetable strata we enjoyed last night.

881348This recipe – based on one in Robin Robertson’s Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker – uses beans and pesto to create a savory sauce that envelops creamy Yukon gold potato slices and other complimentary vegetables. Use the best pesto and vegetable broth you can find for the most sublime results.

Five-Layer Vegetable Strata

2 cups cooked white beans
1 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup pesto (make some or use your favorite commercial one)
2 Yukon gold potatoes, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 small zucchini, sliced
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a blender, combine the beans, broth and pesto and blend until smooth. Spray the inside of your crockpot’s crock with cooking spray. Place a small amount of the pesto-bean sauce in the bottom of the crockpot. Layer in the potato slices and top with a bit more of the pesto-bean sauce. Repeat with each vegetable in the order listed, spreading a bit more pesto-bean sauce between each layer. Finish by topping the tomatoes with the last of the pesto-bean sauce and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve in bowls with a slice or two of crusty bread to soak up the sauce. Pure comfort!

Serves 4.