Those who know me know that I am mostly a meat-and-potatoes kind of girl. I do like the occasional salad and have become more open to different types of food. But for a pretty good while, when I went out to eat, I was 90% sure before we even got to the restaurant that I was getting a burger (hopefully with crispy, almost burnt bacon) and fries.
Then I met Chelsea. Well, not really met, but we became better friends – being roommates and all. And what do ya guess? She’s a vegetarian! So if I’m making dinner for my 2 roommates and I, you better believe it’s something with lots of veggies. Usually I can sneak chicken and beef into my meals when I’m cooking for Kevin 🙂 It’s a perfect balance for me!
Another reason I’m interested in making more meatless meals (besides the fact that I don’t want to be rude and let Chels watch Anna and I as we devour our rib-eyes while she’s left with Special K for dinner) is that it’s cheap! If you think about it, when you go to the grocery store and buy the ingredients you need to make a meal, the most expensive item on your list is most likely your protein. Vegetables and grains are way more cost-effective and food-baby-effective, too (girls that get really bloated after a big meal…you know what I mean). I also read in an issue of Cooking Light that they do “Meatless Mondays” now! How cool is that? I think vegetarians are about to take over the world. Although I am going to hop on this whole meatless meal one day a week train, there’s no way I’m saying no to my meat for good. Baby steps…
I guess I should talk about the recipe now, shouldn’t I?
I bought this huge bag of dried New Mexico chiles (I read they could be used as a substitute for ancho chiles) for enchiladas one time. Might I add that these were black bean and cheese enchiladas – no pollo, no carne. Pobrecita. Anyway, I’ve been trying to find ways to use them again and thought it would be a great way to add flavor to this vegetarian chili. It adds a really nice depth of flavor that you can’t get from regular chili powder. You essentially steep the dried peppers in water to reconstitute them. Then pulse them in a blender or food processor with about 1/2 cup of the steeping water, and you have an excellent addition to your chili!
After cutting what felt 500 pounds of vegetables, I threw them in a large pot with vegetable oil and a little bit of butter. You just want to cook them half-way because they’re going to cook in the chili, too! Another tip I suggest is adding the chili powder and other spices in with the vegetables before you add the tomatoes and vegetable broth. I think it allows the spices to mix and marry with the vegetables better. We had onions, celery, carrots, corn, zucchini, green bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers. And then 3 types of beans! We definitely didn’t miss the meat. You still get full eating this chili, but it doesn’t weigh you down and it’s good for you!
You meat lovers out there who just can’t stand the thought of chili without meat can still use this recipe! Just add your favorite meat to the pan before all of the vegetables and let it caramelize. It’s still a very figure friendly and full of flavor chili. Like my alliteration? I’m a poet.
Vegetarian Chili: (little maddie’s original)
- 4 dried New Mexico chilis, stemmed and seeded (you can substitute ancho chili)
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, sliced
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 jalapeño peppers, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander
- pinch of cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans *
- 1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans *
- 1 (15 oz.) can white beans *
- 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes *
- 1 (15 oz.) can vegetable or chicken broth *
- plain greek yogurt (like Chobani), for topping
- crushed up Tostitos (my favorite), for topping
*If you found a 14.5 oz. can but not a 15 oz. can, don’t worry about it! These measurements are only guidelines. It won’t mess the whole recipe up if you can’t find the 15 oz. can of beans. Just get what you can find and what’s most cost-effective!
Place stemmed and seeded chilis in a small pot with water and bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the chilis steep in the water for about 5 minutes. Place chilis in a blender or food processor with 1/2 cup of the steeping liquid and blend until smooth. Set aside.
Heat oil and butter in a large pot. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Season with S & P. Add zucchini, carrots, and corn and cook for another 3 minutes. Add chili powder, coriander, cinnamon, and salt. Add the tomatoes, blended New Mexico chili mixture, and vegetable or chicken stock. Add the tomato paste, being sure to incorporate well. Add the beans. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for about 1 and a half hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with plain greek yogurt (tastes just like sour cream!), crushed up chips, diced avocado, diced red onion, cilantro, cheddar cheese, or anything else you can think of!