Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Spice Girl: Vegetarian Chili

I'm a lifelong chili lover. I've never met a chili I didn't like. From the canned Hormels I ate growing up, to the sourdough chili bowls that fueled me during my college years, to my first experiments in homemade chili...I have loved it all. My husband, on the other hand, not so much. Luckily, I have matured (slightly) since the days when I nearly broke up with a boyfriend when he told me he couldn't stand soup noodles (obviously we were not meant to be). I did not file for divorce, instead I invented this super-spicy chili, which led to the following conversation.

D (my husband): This is some outstanding chili!
Me: Oh you like it? I'm going to make it even better next time.
D: (Scooping chili into his mouth like he's last place in an eating contest) No, it's perfect. Don't change a thing.
Me: (Skeptically) Really? There's not even any meat in it.
D: (Stunned) Is there a hidden camera in here?

I've since made it with meat, and actually, we like it veggie-style better. In fact, if you serve it without the fixings, this bad boy is actually vegan. I should mention that my husband and I are spice fiends, so unless you like blow-your-top-off hotness, you'll want to halve the cayenne used. I layer three kinds of chili: dried, powdered, and fresh, so you know it's going to be awesome. One great thing about the meatless ground is that it keeps FOREVER (like a month) in the fridge, so this is a really great pantry dish that takes only about 15 minutes to prep and way less than an hour total to cook.

Vegetarian Chili to Convert Meat Lovers
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 - 3 serranos (sliced finely)
2 - 3 cloves of garlic (crushed or minced)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package Yves meatless ground
1 can pinto beans
2 cans black beans
1 tablespoon cumin
1½ tablespoons cayenne (only for the very daring, otherwise, start with ½ tablespoon and add to taste)
2 dried chiles, crumbled (I use whatever's lying around, which is often Cascabel)
2 bell peppers (diced, optional)
Bouillon or water
½ can of tomato paste (about 3 tablespoons) Here's how to freeze the rest

Sour cream
Shredded cheese
Green onions

1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven (I use my cast-iron Le Creuset).

2. Cook onion for a few minutes, then add sliced serranos, stir for another minute, then add minced garlic and cook for one more minute.

3. Add meatless ground, 2 crushed chiles, cayenne, cumin, bell pepper (if using), stir for about a minute, until ingredients are mixed.

4. Add three cans of drained beans, half can of tomato paste, cover with water or bouillon (about 2-3 cups, depending on how wet you like your chili).

5. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. I find this salty enough without additional salt, but if you do want more salt, add it at the end.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese & green onions. Like most chilis, this is even better the next day.

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