Indian spices, patty pan squash and ground beef comingle in this slow cooker supper. A tasty way to feed the family from the farm share on a busy afternoon.
With school starting I feel like I'm supposed to say our days will get busier, but more than the busier Fall days, I am looking forward to the structure of the coming weeks. Without any structure to each week (my activities have been irregular this summer), meals and meal times have really been fluid. We'll eat lunch at 2 pm, then not really be hungry for dinner. Having the kids up at ___ time, out the door at ___ time, with evening activities at ___ time will give me a framework on which to hang meals. Then my spouse will return, and we'll soon be in the swing our our family routine again. I'm looking forward to that.
I use my slow cooker year round, but not often enough for it to get Pride of Place in the kitchen. It lives in the basement Active Storage area. Technically I have 3 slow cookers, so they live in this area.
[My spouse has an engineer brain, so we have an Active Storage area and a Cold Storage area--which doesn't store food, but does store less frequently accessed items like Christmas decorations.] I primarily use my ancient 3-4 Quart Crock pot, but I love to heat spaghetti sauce in my little one (for the days when my son is in charge of boiling the noodles right before the rest of us get home) and make Kalua Pig or soup stock in my large one.
I developed this recipe from a desire to use some of the cow in the freezer and the patty pan squash from the CSA farm share in a form that my kids would enjoy over multiple meals. They loved Rebecca of Foodie With Family's Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala when I riffed off it to make my Slow Cooker Chicken and Chick Pea Tikka Masala. I figured I'd do something similar. Since tikka = chicken it makes no sense to title this dish "Tikka" anything as there's no chicken in it, but since masala = a sauce, usually with tomatoes and spices and cream, I'm good with my title. This makes a lot, and the leftovers are good in a thermos for a school or work lunch.
If you don't have a pile of ground beef in the freezer, you could easily sub ground turkey or chicken (then you can call it tikka again), or keep it vegetarian with cooked chick peas or red lentils.
If you don't have patty pan squash, then yellow squash, zucchini, or even peeled and cubed acorn or butternut squashes will substitute just fine I think. Let me know.
If you don't have chard stems, just skip them. I hate to waste edible food, so I plussed up the veggie content of this dish by including the chard stems I had in the crisper.
If you don't have the specific spice blends I used, Penzey's Balti and Rogan Josh, don't worry. I didn't have the garam masala Rebecca called for so I subbed with what I had.
Use any type of crushed tomatoes that you have--store bought or home canned, whatever you've got. I'm canning tomatoes these days because I love the utilitarian potential of a jar of crushed tomatoes. It's ready to use in a flash and can be used in a wide variety of cuisines, like this Slow Cooker Squash and Beef Masala.
NOTE: I created this recipe to be gluten free through my choice of ingredients. Check labels to confirm that your products are also gluten free. Good sources for determining that your products are gluten free can be found here:
Slow Cooker Squash and Beef Masala
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 1/4 cups chopped chard stems
3 cups chopped patty pan squash
3 cloves minced garlic (or dried equivalent if you roasted all yours already)
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt (3 seems like so much, so I did 2 1/2)
2 teaspoons ginger paste
2 Tablespoons Penzey's Balti seasoning
1 Tablespoon Rogan Josh seasoning
1 qt crushed tomatoes (or a 28 ounce can)
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Hot cooked Basmati rice for serving
In a large skillet, heat a splash of cooking oil over medium heat. Brown ground beef, drain, and stir in cumin and coriander. Heat until fragrant, then transfer meat to a crock pot (at least 3 quarts, but you don't need one of those monster ones). In the same skillet, add another splash of oil and sauté the onion, chard stems, and squash over medium heat until they start to soften, about 5-8 minutes for my overfilled skillet. Add the garlic, salt, ginger and seasonings and continue sautéing until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then pour over the meat in the slow cooker. Give the slow cooker a stir, then cover, PLUG IT IN AND TURN IT ON Low for 4-5 hours.
About 15 minutes before you're ready to serve, whisk together the cornstarch and cream in a small bowl. Pour it into the slow cooker, stir, cover and heat until it begins to bubble. Serve over hot cooked rice. This reheats wonderfully well.