Slow cooker dinners are a welcome convenience in hot weather. They don’t heat up your kitchen, and you can prepare the ingredients early in the day, while it’s still cool out. Then start the cooker later just before you head to the beach.

This recipe lingers well on a keep-warm setting, so you can relax with cocktails until you’re ready to eat. You can serve this savory dish over a grain such as farro, rice or couscous or even pasta, or simply with garlic bread or pita. The amount can be doubled if you’re looking for an easy way to feed a crowd.

I hope you’ve discovered by now how versatile soy curls are. You’ll be seeing more recipes for them in the future. I’ve heard that some natural foods stores carry them, but I’ve yet to find them locally and always order them online.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 bell peppers (red, orange or yellow), diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including liquid
1/2 cup white wine
2 tsp. vegetable bouillon base, such as Better Than Bouillon no-chicken
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 ounces soy curls, such as Butler
4 to 5 ounces baby spinach

Directions:

1. In a slow cooker, combine the oil, onion, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, wine, bouillon base, oregano, basil, fennel seeds and pepper flakes.
2. Cook on low heat for 3 hours or longer, stirring now and then if you have a chance.
3. Stir in the soy curls and cook for another 1/2 hour.
4. Stir in the spinach and turn off the heat. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Wendy Andresen lives in Camden with her husband, Ray; her Sheltie, Sunshine; and her bunny, Rustle. She welcomes responses to her column at wendyandrayzer@yahoo.com.