I'm not gonna lie. I make a mean chili. Usually consisting of pretty basic ingredients like ground beef and ground turkey, some beans, crushed tomatoes and spices. But when my friend Lauren asked if I'd ever made a vegetarian version (you know, one that she could actually try since she doesn't eat meat), I realized that it never occured to me to make it meatless. And so a challenge was born.
I assumed that the same basic chili principles that I use for my meat-filled chili would apply.
This chili was so easy to prepare. Packed with veggies and beans, it's hearty and filling. When I told Shaun that I was making a meatless chili...well, let's just say he was...skeptical. But the final verdict? Neither of us missed the meat. Shaun even transformed the chili into other dishes throughout the week (since somehow I felt it necessary to make a vat large enough to provide for hibernating bears). First up, he added a dollop of sour cream and some baked tortilla chips and we had a nice chili dip for the Jets game on Monday night. Though we've since blacked out the evening from our minds (if you saw the game, you'll understand), this dish was the only memorable part of the night.
I also came home from Zumba on Tuesday to find my love preparing huevos rancheros at 9:30 (gotta love a man who cooks). Utilizing the chili, he layered low fat sour cream, low fat cheddar cheese, scrambled eggs and the veggie chili atop a whole wheat tortilla that he lightly sauteed to crispify. Not bad, right?
The best part is that you can really add any vegetables that you want to this chili. I used carrots, celery and bell peppers, but I bet you could also mix in some asparagus or spinach as well.
Three Bean Chili
2 small onions, diced
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1 ½ C carrots, chopped (I used a few handfuls of baby carrots and chopped ‘em up)
1 garlic clove, minced
4 bell peppers, roughly chopped, ribs & seeds removed (I used a combination of red & green)
1 tbsp butter or light butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cans canellini beans, rinsed & drained
2 cans black beans, rinsed & drained
2 cans red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes (I use Red Pack)
2 28 oz cans tomato sauce (I use Red Pack)
4 tbsp cumin
3 tbsp chili powder
Chop up all the veggies. In a big stock pot, heat the butter and olive oil and add the onions, sautéing for a couple of minutes. Add the celery and carrots, sprinkle with kosher salt, and give it a big stir. This is your mirepoix. The holy trinity of aromatics if you will.
Let that cook for a few minutes and then add the peppers and garlic. We’re layering flavors here people!
Once softened, about 3-4 minutes, add the rinsed beans and stir all together. It might require a bit of elbow grease to get ‘er done since the pot will be about halfway to two-thirds full. Next, add in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and spices. Mix all together now.
Bring it to a boil and then turn to simmer. With the lid to the pot slightly ajar so that steam can escape, simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. The chili will reduce and start to smell heavenly. You’ll be left with a delicious chili for all to enjoy. While the cumin and chili powder to give the chili some depth, if you want it spicy (which we did not), you can also sprinkle in some cayenne pepper.
So there you have it. A tale of my meatless chili. So what do you think? Have you ever transformed a favorite dish to suit other needs? Like those of a vegetarian friend? :)