Guide to Slow Cooking Pastas & Grains
All kinds of pastas, grains, and beans can be incorporated into slow
cooked dishes. From casseroles to soups to chili, these ingredients can
make all the difference when it comes to completing your meal. However,
some varieties of pastas, grains, and beans do not work well in the slow
cooker due to the method in which it heats. Therefore, it is important
to know how and when to add these ingredients to your dishes.
Rice in the Slow Cooker
Rice is a popular component in recipes around the world. In fact, it
may be the world’s most widely eaten food. However, traditional
long-grain rice is not a good choice for the slow cooker. It simply does
not heat properly or absorb liquid appropriately when cooked in this
manner. Instead, opt for quick-cooking rice found in many supermarkets.
These processed varieties respond well to slow cooking. They will steam
while cooking and are unlikely to be overcooked during the long heating
period. If preparing rice by itself, a delicious side dish can be made
in the slow cooker in roughly an hour. That is how long most
quick-cooking rice takes to cook in a slow cooker.
Risotto works a Treat!
Risotto, an Italian grain that resembles rice, can also be prepared
in the slow cooker. Normally, risotto requires constant attention and
addition of more liquid. However, this process is greatly simplified by
the slow heating and high moisture retention of the slow cooker. Still,
like rice, quick-cooking risotto varieties will work best with your slow
cooker. These should take roughly an hour and a half to prepare through
slow cooking and will leave you with creamy, delicious results.
Other Grains in a Slow Cooker
When cooking other varieties of grains in the slow cooker. It is
important to accurately assess cooking time. Not all grains cook the
same. Quinoa and millet will take the least amount of time to prepare.
At the other hand of the spectrum, barley and rye can take a comparably
long time to heat. However, there are ways to shorten the cooking time
of any type of grain. For one, you can soak grains in water prior to
heating. You can also quickly fry grains in oil prior to adding them to
the slow cooker. In general, though, all grains should take between
forty minutes and two hours to cook. Thus, they are still a quicker slow
cooker option than meats.
Slow Cooking Pasta
Pasta is in a separate category than grains when it comes to
preparing them in the slow cooker. However, not all types of pasta will
fare well with this cooking method. Pasta cannot be left to simmer for
several hours, even on the warm setting, as this will leave it soft and
soggy. Additionally, wheat pastas tend to respond better to slow cooking
than those that are egg based. These latter noodles are more prone to
losing their shape during cooking.
While not all pastas are suited for slow cooking, those that are can
be used to create delicious meals. When adding noodles to sauce based
dishes, wait until the sauce is nearly boiling and then cook your pasta
on high heat for thirty to forty-five minutes. You can also make lasagna
in your slow cooker. Just get some pre-cooked sheets and your dish
should be ready in roughly 2 hours. This is also the length of time it
takes for other pasta and cheese dishes, like stuffed shells or
cannelloni. If you are using whole-wheat pasta, you may need to add up
to ten minutes to your cooking time as these varieties tend to be drier.