from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (I used a combo of red, yellow, and orange)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 tsp dried thyme (I used about a tablespoon of fresh)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp pesto

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant into a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker (I used my 5 quart and it was just fine).

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the onion to the slow cooker along with the bell pepper, garlic, zucchini, tomatoes and their juice, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. (I gave it a stir even though it didn’t tell me to. Just fine.) Cover and cook on Low for 4 hours, until the vegetables are tender.

Just before serving, stir in the pesto. Serves 4 to 6.

What a cozy meal! I love that the slow cooker makes a dish that it seems you’d have to slave over for much longer to produce, while you go off and sweep floors and swim with your baby and fold laundry and work on some drawings and read blogs. That’s my kind of meal. This one was particularly easy, maybe it was because I had help? My daughter supervised in the kitchen as I chopped the veggies. She tested them out and urged me not to use the eggplant, but I think it might have been hard for her to imagine that raw eggplant would turn into THIS!
A friend suggested I might serve this over quinoa, which I’ll totally try next time! This time I already had my heart set on whole wheat pasta. What I loved most about this dish is the addition of the pesto. I didn’t use traditional pesto because baby doesn’t eat nuts yet, and I wanted to share the fruits of our combined labor with her… so I made a quick batch of “pesto” by chopping to death a bunch of fresh basil, a squirt of lemon juice, a sprinkling of salt, a few tablespoons of olive oil, as well as a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast all together. I just added the ingredients in small amounts until it looked and tasted pestoliscious. Success!