Friday, August 27, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

Who out there doesn't love a big bowl of chili? A deliciously warm and comforting bowl of chili topped with sharp cheddar cheese, sour cream and cilantro. Chili that's spicy and flavourful, belly warming and filling.

There's no doubt in my mind that chili is a mark of exceptional culinary skill. You can tell because of how competitive people can be about it. Communities or work places have chili cook-offs and people who make it the best are guarded and secretive about their recipes. Only sometimes can you hear whisperings of secret ingredients. Ingredients like unsweetened chocolate, beer or cola that can turn good recipe into an amazing one.

While this recipe doesn't have any secret ingredients, it's a good one. Use it as your basic framework and play around with the ingredients. Adding or subtracting any beans or veggies you like (or don't like) or add ground turkey or beef for a meaty chili. Sometimes I'll add in vegetables like yams, squash or eggplant, but more often I keep it simple and play around with the spices.

Vegetarian Chili (serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 jalapeno, poblano or serrano, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chili power
1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, pureed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can of corn
14oz (398 ml) can kidney beans
14oz (398 ml) can black or white beans
14oz (398 ml) can of tomatoes, pureed
salt and pepper to taste

grated sharp cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro
sour cream

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute for about 15 minutes until the onions begin to caramelize. Add carrots, zucchini, peppers, garlic and spices. Stir and saute for 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables soften.

Then add the corn, kidney and black or white beans and the pureed can of tomatoes. Simmer until it thickens slightly and the flavours develop. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve in large bowls and top with grated cheddar cheese, cilantro and sour cream.

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Lime Leaf and Chili Lentils
A colourful bed of green beans topped with red lentil chili and shredded kaffir leaves.

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