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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Vegetarian chili for those who hate rules

For those who read my previous Tweet and thought, "Mmm, vegetarian chili sounds good," I thought I'd share my dandy little recipe.

Honestly, I have no intention of telling you exactly how much of each item to include because A. I don't measure and B. the taste and spiciness of chili is extremely individual; so, grab some ground cayenne, and do your worst...or add the tiniest amount and still feel like a rebel.

Yet another perk of a meatless chili: You can taste as you go without risk of food borne illness from undercooked meat!

Gather these:
Olive oil
Peppers of any variety
Scallions (or other onion of choice)
1 can tomato paste
Bean(s) of choice
Diced tomatoes (2 canned or a boatload of fresh)
Spices of choice (chili powder, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder)
Zucchini and/or summer squash
Elbow macaroni-like noodle (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Shredded cheese (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)

(Recommended amounts below serve 4-ish rather hungry people.)

Think of your grandmother's soup pot (you know, the one she had to store in the basement because no kitchen cabinet on earth is that big) and divide in half in order to select the correct sized pot. Grab the olive oil, take the cap off, flip it over and squiggle it around making pretty designs in the bottom of the pot until it's coated with a thin layer. Turn the heat on low.

Add 5-7 chopped scallions, 1.5-2 chopped bell peppers and 3-4 stalks chopped celery.

Have fun with the peppers: Any color or member of the pepper family is welcome.

Sidenote: If carrots, celery and onion is a mirepoix, what is the holy trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper called?


Let the menage-a-veggie sweat a little. (So, let them soften a bit.)

Add in one mini-can of tomato paste and mix. (Go lycopene!)

Spice it up: chili powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cumin and garlic powder are my go-to flavors.

Bring on the protein! All of the beans I use are prepared from dry then frozen.

According to my dosha, I should eat black beans, and I often do. (No, I'm not kidding.) Also, there's the whole undercooked-kidney-beans-can-make-you-really-sick thing that I'm too paranoid to tempt.

Two bean varieties add visual appeal, like black and great northern, for example.

How much? I add beans until the distribution looks like I'd get at least one bean per bite. Pretty scientific, eh?

Next, 1-1.5 small-to-medium zucchini and/or summer squash. (Remember that summer squash is a bit tougher and will take longer to cook. Also remember that summer squash adds a gorgeous splash of golden yellow to your dish.)

Last, add two large cans of diced tomatoes or a whole bunch of fresh or a mixture.

Served with elbow macaroni, sour cream, some shredded cheddar and fresh cilantro is kiss-your-fingertips fantastic.

This recipe's free-to-be-you-and-me lack of rigidity allows you to empty your fridge, use the veggies that are about to go limp and show some gratitude by using up all of what you already have. (Not to mention, it means you get every penny out of your last grocery store trip.)

Great. I made myself hungry.

photo credit: I Believe I Can Fry via photopin cc

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