You’ll need a slow cooker to make this curried chicken and summer vegetables stew. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

You’ll need a slow cooker to make this curried chicken and summer vegetables stew. (Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post)

Toss chicken thighs into slow cooker to beat the August heat

This recipe takes advantage of the bounty of summer vegetables: green beans, eggplant, tomatoes.

Using a slow cooker at the height of summer yields a tasty, nourishing meal while relieving you of the dread of standing over a heat source like the grill or stove. (Don’t even mention turning on an oven!)

Slow-cooking also allows for some extra play time once you get the ingredients in the machine and turn it on. Sure, making a meal of uncooked salads answers that call, too, and I do lots of that in the summer, but the slow cooker offers the contrast of long-cooked, developed flavors that I find myself yearning for after so much raw produce.

This recipe takes advantage of the bounty of in-season vegetables — green beans, eggplant, onion, tomatoes — by joining them with chicken thighs and a slurry of light coconut milk, curry powder, ginger, garlic and tomato paste.

When I made mine, I set the timer for three hours, headed out the door for a leisurely walk in the park and then stopped for an iced coffee with a friend. I returned home to a fragrant stew, full of juicy chicken and softened vegetables in a amber-colored, creamy sauce — a satisfying meal to cap off an easy, no-sweat summer afternoon.

Slow cooker curried chicken and summer vegetables

This fragrant stew of juicy chicken, green beans and eggplant in a coconut curry sauce relieves you of the heat of grill or stove while making the most of in-season vegetables.

You will need a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker for this recipe.

Make ahead: The eggplant needs to be salted and drained for 30 minutes.

3 medium eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/2 pounds total)

1½ teaspoons salt

1 can (13.5 ounce) light coconut milk, shaken well

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons mild curry powder

2- to 3-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, minced (1 tablespoon)

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed

1 medium onion, thinly sliced into half-moons

1 pound fresh or frozen/defrosted green beans, trimmed

3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

Place the eggplant in a colander over a bowl or in the sink and toss with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse the eggplant with cool water, lay it on paper towels and pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible.

Whisk together the coconut milk, tomato paste, curry powder, ginger, garlic, pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt in the slow cooker. Add the chicken, and then the drained eggplant, onion, green beans and tomato wedges. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings. Nutrition per serving (using ½ teaspoon salt): 260 calories, 27 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fat, 5 grams saturated fat, 105 milligrams cholesterol, 340 milligrams sodium, 8 grams dietary fiber, 9 grams sugar.

Ellie Krieger is a writer for The Washington Post.

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