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Versatile Vegetarian: Chili
I made the Vegetarian Bean Chili the other night and it turned out delicious!
My family had fun adding various toppings to their liking.
A bowl of chili is a tried-and-true vegetarian main course, and with good reason: it’s hearty but not heavy, packed with protein, and highly adaptable. There’s an infinite number of ways to vary the basic recipe below, including a bevy of toppings for a build-it-yourself buffet.
Vegetarian Bean Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 poblano chile, ribs and seeds removed, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
1 tablespoon plus
11/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cups cooked kidney beans (see page 365), drained and rinsed
3 cups cooked pinto beans (see page 365), drained and rinsed
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice
Assorted toppings, for serving
1. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, poblano, and garlic; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in green chiles, chili powder, and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, until spices are darkened and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
3. Add beans, tomatoes and their juice, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender and chili is thickened, 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat. Season with salt. Serve with suggested toppings (see page 148), as desired.
Per serving (without toppings): 342 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg cholesterol, 57 g carbohydrates, 17 g protein, 18 g fiber
TOP IT OFF
Chili actually benefits from a little improvisation, and assorted toppings are a good way to change up the flavor and texture. In many cases the toppings can temper the heat as well. Choose among those shown opposite. See page 363 for how to toast pepitas. Toast whole flour or corn tortillas over the flame of a gas burner, turning with tongs, until lightly charred, about 30 seconds per side; let cool slightly and cut into strips. Try queso blanco or Monterey Jack cheese.
VARY THE BEANS
Swap in an equal amount of other beans: in addition to the pinto and kidney beans used in the master recipe (page 146), black, navy, and pink beans are all common in chili; black-eyed peas, chickpeas, or lentils would also work. Use just one type of bean or a combination of two or three. Just make sure to keep the total volume the same.
ADD SEASONAL VEGETABLES
Practically any vegetable can be added to chili; usually it will be cooked along with the onion and chile until tender, before the other ingredients are added. For a summer version, add up to
1 cup diced red, yellow, or green bell peppers (or a mix); sliced zucchini or yellow squash; or fresh corn kernels, alone or in combination. For an autumn chili, add up to 1 cup peeled, diced butternut squash or sweet potato; chopped Swiss chard, kale, or other sturdy greens; or diced mushrooms.
MAKE IT GREEN
Puree 3 pounds tomatillos, husked and washed, until smooth in a food processor or blender. Use this puree in place of the canned tomatoes in the master recipe.
INCREASE THE HEAT
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh green chile, such as jalapeño or serrano. (As a general rule, the smaller the chile, the hotter it is.) Or try adding 1 to 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce to impart a smoky flavor.
MAXIMIZE THE FLAVORS
Broil the vegetables for deeper flavor: Before getting started, halve the onion and poblano chile, and place cut side down on a baking sheet; add whole (peeled) garlic cloves and broil until just starting to char, then chop and sauté as directed. You could also broil a pound of fresh plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, until softened and starting to char, then dice or puree in a blender; use this puree in place of the canned tomatoes.
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