Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hot and Spicy and oh so easy- Vegetarian Chili

Need to feed a hungry crowd in a hurry?  This vegetarian chili is chock full of vegetables, flavourful and delicious and quick and easy to prepare.  I don't use canned "anything" very often, this is the exception.  Canned beans and tomatoes get this chili started in no time.  You just have to focus on the vegetables.

I'm using the basics: onions, red pepper, celery, garlic and adding squash (zucchini and butternut) and corn.  Many different flavourings are added to give the chili layers and layers of flavour.  You don't have to include them all.

This recipe will serve 6-8 and doubles easily.

3     cloves of garlic, minced
3     tbsp oil (I use olive, saflower or grapeseed oil)
2     medium onions, diced
3     stalks of celery
1     red pepper, diced
1     medium zucchini, diced
1     small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1     cup frozen corn

2     796 ml cans of diced tomatoes
2     540 ml cans of red kidney beans
1     540 ml can of black beans
1     398 ml can of tomato sauce
1     tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1     tbsp ancho pepper powder
1/2  tbsp hot chili powder
1     tbsp ground cumin
1     tbsp paprika
1     tsp cayenne
1/2  tsp ground jalapeno (or use 1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and diced)
1     chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced*
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2  cup coriander, chopped
2     tbsp lime juice

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring until it is softened and fragrant (do not let it brown, it will get bitter), about thirty seconds.  Add the onions and cook until they soften.  Add the celery, red pepper, zucchini and squash and cook an additional five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce along with the spices and the chipotle pepper.  Bring to a quick boil, then lower to a gentle simmer and let the chili simmer until all the flavours are melded and the vegetables soft, approximately 1 hour.  Taste and adjust the seasonings along the way.  If you like your chili really thick, add the tomato paste halfway through, but watch out, it can stick to the bottom of the pot.  When you're happy with the flavours, remove from heat and add the cilantro and the lime juice.  It's now ready to serve.

Wanna play?
You can substitute the chipotle in adobo with a tablespoon of good quality cocoa powder; vary the beans by substituting white kidney beans and/or chickpeas; add other vegetables like green, orange or yellow peppers,  diced mushrooms or even mango or take out some of the ones I've listed.

If you don't have all the seasonings, not to worry, you can use regular grocery store chili powder, crushed chilies for some additional heat.  Don't like cilantro, don't use it or substitute fresh Italian parsley.  If you really like the lime, you could also add lime zest to the top of the chili when you serve it.

I like a few crunchy vegetables in my chili, so at the end of the cooking time, I add in diced celery and peppers.  You could place them, along with fresh tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa on the table and invite guests to add their own.

I serve my chili on rice with a side of tortilla chips.  Even better, prepare a large baked potato (baked in the oven, not the microwave, please).  Cut the potato in half lengthwise, add chili and top with grated cheese and/or sour cream and/or your favourite salsa and guacamole. Heavenly!

Build it: baked potato topped with chili, then sour cream,
followed by  salsa with a side of guacamole.
The black bean version- replace the
 kidney beans with black beans.

For the freezer:  laddle the cooled chili into medium freezer bags- approximately three cups per bag, just enough for two.  Let the air out as you seal, label the bag and store flat in the freezer.

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