Jackfruit Chipotle Chili | VeganMoFo 2019 Day Twenty-One

What do you do when you need to use up the veggies in your fridge, you’re a little sick of rice/noodle-and-veg dishes, and it’s 90˚ out? Make chili!

Heh. Maybe it wasn’t the most obvious choice for a hot summer day, but it worked with what we had in the fridge. Steven whipped this sucker up on the fly and it was ready when I got home from work — always a treat! He used black beans, red pepper, a shallot, corn, and jackfruit, along with the standard tomato base. He also added some chipotle peppers, giving it quite an unexpected kick. (So much for my resolution to avoid super-spicy foods!) But you can’t really complain when someone is cooking for you., right? Plus, we had a bit of leftover cheesy sauce, which we mixed in to temper the spice. (Not pictured because it was not very visually appealing.)

Do you have a favorite chili recipe or do you always wing it? I usually make it up as I go, but when I want a tried and true recipe, I go for my smoky black bean chili. It’s one of my favorites!

Smoky Vegan Black Bean Chili

This is a recipe that truly surprised me. After a whirlwind long weekend with family in town (my mom, my sister, and my two adorable—but energetic!—little nephews), I wanted to make something quick and easy for dinner last Monday night after our houseguests rolled out. Chili seemed like just the ticket. Without much fanfare and without trying to fancy it up, I quickly whipped up a batch of black bean chili. And it turned out to be one of the best chilis I’ve made in a while, despite having minimal ingredients. Smoky, hearty, richly flavored and beautifully textured, this chili is going to become a mainstay in my dinner repertoire.

Smoky, Spicy Vegan Black Bean Chili // govegga.com

The secret? Two simple techniques:

  • Use fewer spices, but more of them—lots of cumin and coriander provide rich flavor.
  • Don’t rinse the beans! Instead, leave them in their aquafabulous coating. This makes for a gorgeously thick sauce that holds everything together and binds the flavor.

My only regret? That I didn’t have enough ingredients on hand to make even more chili! This is a small batch, so feel free to double it. (I’d recommend not immediately doubling the serrano pepper and chili powder; instead, taste for spice and go from there.) You could also omit the mushrooms if you’re not a fan, but I really enjoyed how their soft texture played against the beans in this smoky vegan chili.

Smoky Vegan Black Bean Chili

Makes about 4 servings

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced small
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 serrano chili, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp cumin
  • 1 heaping tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoky chili powder (I used piment d’espelette)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 15 oz fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 32-oz can black beans (Drain (and save!) the aquafaba, but do not rinse the beans themselves; you’ll add them directly from the can with whatever aquafaba remains)
  • 1 cup frozen corn

Method

In a large stockpot, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil over medium heat, then add the onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms and let cook for another 3 minutes, then add the garlic and serrano chili. Sauté for another 3 minutes, then add the spices (cumin, coriander, oregano, chili powder, and smoked paprika, if using) and stir to coat. Cook for another 30 seconds, then add the tomato sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, and corn. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste for spice and salt, then serve with your favorite chili toppings!

Notes

  • I used piment d’espelette, a really lovely chili powder my brother and his girlfriend got me for Christmas from a Seattle spice shop they frequent. You can find piment d’espelette on Amazon or just use whatever chili powder you have on hand.
  • I didn’t add extra salt because the tomato sauce and fire-roasted tomatoes I used contained salt. Your mileage may vary; check your brand of tomatoes and adjust salt accordingly.

PIN IT

Smoky, Spicy Vegan Black Bean Chili // govegga.com

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Three-Bean Millet Chili

Certain dishes are tied to very specific times in my life. Brown rice with pesto? College, eating at the dining hall, not caring for any of the veg options, and making a meal from the a la carte items. Celeste frozen pizzas? Kindergarten and the first few years of elementary school, when my mom ran an in-home daycare and would occasionally let us sit on blankets in the basement eating pizza and watching Star Wars. Popcorn with loads of different topping options? My first year in Madison, when my roommate Kristina and I would set up a “popcorn bar” and watch countless episodes of The Office.

Some dishes, though, are constants, growing up right along with me. My mom has made apple crisp with fresh-picked apples every autumn I can remember, only now she uses Earth Balance instead of butter. And my dad has always, always been able to whip up a mean batch of chili. It was kind of his thing when we were young; everyone knew Mitch would bring a delicious spicy chili to family parties. These days, he foregoes the ground beef and makes them plant-based instead. (I’m told he made a killer mushroom-based faux-meat filling this summer, but I didn’t get to try it!)

When S and I started dating, S wasn’t quite as facile in the kitchen as I was (not to mention that he ate meat at that point!). But he could do one thing I couldn’t: he could make a kick-ass chili. Once when my parents visited me in Madison, I made chili for lunch, but it was watery, bland, and generally an embarrassment compared to the chilis my dad makes. He very diplomatically did not call out my subpar chili-making abilities, but I felt ashamed nonetheless. So the next time S made chili, I watched him and learned his secrets for making a thick, filling chili: Don’t add water or vegetable broth. Use tomato paste. Add a little brown sugar or molasses. Brilliant. My chilis have never been the same.

And of course, once you know the rules, you can break them! This three-bean chili totally ignores the no-water rule, but only because the addition of uncooked millet necessitates adding a little more liquid for the millet to soak up as it cooks. You could, of course, eschew the millet and its attendant water and go for a more traditional chili. But then you’d lose out on the 21 grams of protein and hefty dose of iron that the 3/4 cup of millet adds to this dish… and you’d lose out on a unique spin on traditional chili.

Three-Bean Millet Chili

Three-Bean Millet Chili
Serves eight

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red or yellow onion, diced (reserve about 1/4 cup for serving)
  • 1 poblano pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced (reserve about 1/4 cup for serving)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (or more, depending on your tastes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano (but you can probably use regular oregano just fine)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Dash allspice
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 15-oz cans diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you have ’em!)
  • 15 oz water
  • 2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (optional but recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 3/4 cup dried millet
  • 15 oz dark red kidney beans
  • 15 oz pinto beans
  • 15 oz black beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Scallions for serving (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the two diced peppers. Cook for another 5 minutes, then add the spices. Stir to coat the vegetables, then mix in the roasted red peppers and the tomato paste. Add the diced tomatoes, water, coffee (if using), sugar, and millet and turn up to medium heat. Bring to a low boil and cook for about 20 minutes or until the millet is soft. Add the beans and simmer for another 15 minutes with the cover off to help any excess liquid evaporate. Like most chilis, this one benefits from as much simmering time as you can give it!

When you’re ready to serve, top each bowl with a sprinkle of diced onions, green peppers, and sliced scallions.

~~~

When S tried his first bite, he exclaimed, “Mmm, this is good!” Dad, I think even you’d approve of this one!

What’s your favorite chili recipe?

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Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili: Delicious and easy, except when I forget to buy key ingredients

Orange rectangular banner that says "Vegan MoFo" and "Vegan Month of Food 2011."

Howdy, y’all! I’m posting today about a meal I made on Tuesday but photographed on Wednesday – this early sun-setting business really puts a cramp in my blogging. By the time I finished making my dinner, the light was pale and weak, so I had to wait until the next day to photograph it.

The early sun-setting was problematic, but it didn’t help that I had a little hiccup in my meal-making, either. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up a few ingredients, but I forgot one: limes! I realized my mistake about halfway through the cooking process and after a quick internal debate, decided to walk to the grocery store (which is only five minutes away) and pick some up. Because my roommate was out of town and couldn’t keep an eye on my food, I had to turn my stove off and halt my dinner-making. I’m just too paranoid to leave my appliances running when I’m gone! Luckily, I think some of the residual heat from the burner kept the cooking process going.

So, what was I making that desperately required limes? Why, chili, of course! Specifically, this Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili, which was thoughtfully recommended to me by my best friend’s sister. Thanks, Margaret! :)

A head-on shot of a bowl of chili next to a spoon.

Chili-licious.

Now, you might be thinking, “But Kelly, surely you could have just omitted the limes and had a perfectly tasty chili!” And… maybe that’s true. But in the spirit of giving recipes a fair shot at impressing me, I’ve been trying to stay true[r than usual] to ingredient lists during MoFo. And four whole teaspoons of lime juice is quite a lot to omit, you know? I think I made the right decision, too – I could actually taste the sour lime-y tang in my chili, and it was a fantastic counterpoint to the smoky beans and the sweet potatoes. Overall, I really enjoyed this recipe – it was pretty painless to make (excluding my own folly, of course), and resulted in a hearty chili that’s different than most chilis I usually make. I’ll definitely try this again, probably in a few months’ time when it’s cold and snowy and I just need something warm. :)

What do you do when you realize you don’t have all your ingredients mid-cooking? How often do you follow a recipe to the letter?

Note: This is a scheduled post, because I’m currently in Italy. Apologies for any weirdness with auto-publishing!

Ch-ch-ch-chili!

Man, my internet connection is le suxxorz. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, as I don’t pay for it – it’s included in the rent for our apartment. At the same time, though, if our complex advertises free internet as an amenity, it should probably be usable internet, right? As in, it shouldn’t take eons for a single page to load, and I shouldn’t have to budget a century if I want to watch online TV, right?

Oh well.

Anyway, that’s the reason my posts are a bit sparse – my internet connection is spotty at best, and it takes me ages to write up a photo-heavy post. Sometimes WordPress won’t load the photos or Flickr doesn’t care to cooperate… it’s a tough deal. Occasionally I’ll take a small break at work and put something together, but it’s crunch time for the writers at my company and I don’t have all that much free time during the work day.

Enough complaining. Here, have a photo of some chili.

Comfort food, y/y?

I love chili because it’s so damn accommodating to whatever the heck’s chilling in your fridge waiting to be eaten. This specimen include the dregs of a CSA share and some assorted hot peppers from my plants; in fact, other than the beans, the spices, and a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, everything here is local. Hooray for corn and onions and garlic and hot peppers and more tomatoes!

Chili’s also great because it’s embarassingly easy. You sauté the garlic and onions, add some spices, throw it in a pot with your veggies and beans, and let ‘er go. You come back an hour (or a couple of hours) later, and you’ve got a spicy pot of warmth and yumminess ready for your eating pleasure. It’s almost impossible to go wrong! Although I do have a coworker who swears that his mother makes the absolute worst chili in the world – apparently elbow noodles, cheap beef, and kidney beans do not an edible substance make. I’ll take his word for it, I think.

What’s your favorite chili recipe or combination of veggies? Personally, I’m digging the addition of corn – the plump kernels are a nice contrast to the rest of the veggies, which tend to get soft and rather homogenous in texture.