Changing Your Mind About Vegetarian Chili

Veg Chili

November is here! We all need ways to simplify as we face the holidays before us. Along with the lists, shopping and merry-making comes the need for easier ways to keep ahead of meals.  Chili can be just the bill to keep everyone satisfied – and there is an option for all.  If you’re looking for a meaty chili, check out Susan Benton’s sassy version of Chili Con Carne at 30A Eats. But if you have a vegetarian or vegan in the household or are just looking to cut back on meat once in awhile, try this one: you may never go back!

A vegetarian since 2012, I’ve tried all sorts of ways to create a rich chili that doesn’t sacrifice taste and texture. The mix of beans, chilis and sweet potatoes in this version balance heft and hotness – and you probably have most of the ingredients right in your pantry, ready to go.

Taking a shortcut with high quality canned foods means that this chili comes together quickly. I like to serve it with a little freshly grated cheddar (optional, if you’re vegan-izing) and a slice or two of avocado if I have one on hand.  It also freezes well for a quick weekday meal, so you can stay focused on all the fun times ahead.

Vegetarian Chili

Yield: 6 generous servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sweet potato, skinned and diced into bite-size chunks
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    (Note: This garlic rocker is amazing if you need one.)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 2 tsp chili pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1-2 turns cracked black pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes, drained if necessary; do not rinse
  • 1/2 small can (4 oz) of Muir Glen organic tomato sauce
  • 1 small can (4 oz) Hatch fire roasted mild green chilies, diced; drain and rinse
  • 1 can (15 oz) Westbrae Organic Chili Beans, drained if necessary; do not rinse
    If these aren’t available, you can blend your own version of black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans, or select your favorite single-bean option.
  • (Optional) 2-4 oz beer (lager or IPA), if you have one on hand. It’s always a good excuse to crack one open, right?
  • (Optional) Shredded cheddar cheese and sliced avocado for serving

Method

  1. Place diced sweet potatoes in a microwave safe bowl with 1-2 Tbsp of water. Cover with a microwave safe plate or silicone lid. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes.  if not fork-tender, microwave a minute more. (Do not overcook). Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil on MED-HIGH in a cast iron Dutch Oven or large sauce pot. Sauté the diced onions and diced jalapeño pepper until the onions start to become translucent. Add the minced garlic and stir.
  3. Add the spices  (chili powder, chipotle pepper powder, cumin, oregano, cracked black pepper). Add salt if you wish, though I find that the added salt in canned products are sufficient. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and mild green chiles. Stir.
  5. Add the beans. Stir.
  6. Add the sweet potatoes. Stir.
  7. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beer (optional) and stir. Let simmer for another 10 minutes to evaporate and condense the liquid.
  8. If you can, let the chili rest for 1-2 hours, then reheat and serve. OR serve right away if needed – the flavors meld better with a little rest.

Enjoy!

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