Recipe One, Week One: Vegetarian Chili
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I didn’t decide until halfway through the week that I was going to do this project, so I’m going to be playing catchup for a little while, but here’s this week’s recipe for starters, and a not-very-good picture of my dinner.
This is a recipe I made up a few years ago by combining two or three different vegetarian chili recipes that all had some things I liked and some I didn’t. The instructions are a little vague, and I tend to change it slightly every time I make it, so probably best if you use this as a guideline and work from there.
I don’t much care for substitute foods — things you use because you’re not using what you’re supposed to be using. Many vegetarian chili recipes call for texturized vegetable protein in place of meat, and TVP likely has many fine qualities and maybe I would love it if I tried it, but I just haven’t been able to get past the hurdle of using something called texturized vegetable protein, which I think just sounds gross.
This recipe uses mashed beans to give it a thicker texture, and I think it’s really good. I think it would also be good with other vegetables added — carrots or celery or even frozen corn. But usually I stick to the basics, and I did this time too.
I don’t make chili that often, and usually I use dried beans because it’s generally something I plan ahead for — I think because it makes so much I need to be ready for it, it’s not really a spur-of-the-moment meal for me. Also with dried beans you control the sodium, and they’re generally much cheaper than canned, so if we’re supposed to be talking about eating healthy for less, I think they’re the way to go.
If you’re using dried beans, you have to think about it the day ahead so you can soak them, and they do take a little while to cook, but not too long. If time is really an issue, you can cook up a whole bunch at once and freeze them and they’ll keep pretty well.
I had dried black beans and red kidney beans in the pantry, so those won’t come up as an expense for this recipe, but most of the rest of the ingredients I had to buy. I’ll put info on receipts and what I was starting with in the pantry and freezer in separate posts.
But for now, here’s the recipe.
4 cups beans
28oz can (3 cups) crushed tomatoes
2-3 bay leaves
2-3 Tbsp oil (olive or canola)
1 medium onion chopped (approx. 2 cups chopped onion)
6 cloves garlic
1 green pepper chopped (approx 1 cup)
2 small dried or fresh chili peppers, chopped fine
1 tsp basil
1-1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Soak and cook beans according to standard instructions, or use canned beans.
Mash whole beans to get 2 cups mashed. Put 2 cups of whole beans and 2 cups of mashed beans in a large stock pot with tomatoes and bay leaves and water to cover. (You can use some of the bean cooking water, if you cooked the beans yourself instead of using canned.) Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes
Heat the oil in a skillet and saute onions, garlic, and green pepper, along with chili peppers, basil, oregano, cumin, coriander, and chili powder until onions brown. Add to bean mixture adding more water if necessary. Add salt and cayenne. Simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook 20 minutes uncovered.
Serve garnished with minced onion and grated cheddar cheese, if desired.