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Disclaimer June, 2014 :  I  have used the term “lusty vegan” in my blogs without knowing a book by that name was going to be published; I naively thought it was my own phrase.  Just so you know.  Not a thief!

I’m on the road, and don’t have much time for a post.  Thought I’d share a lovely, spicy, perky, round and warm chili I made right before I left Colorado for Louisville and St. Paul where we saw our daughter Emily and are now packing up the last of our hundred-year-old Minnesota house, respectively.

This chili is made to fit into Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before Six, which is not new, but is still a solidly healthy eating program.  This sweet, simple life enables me to eat a carnivorous dinner (with wine), but keeps me on all plant foods until I begin to cook the evening meal each day.  I won’t say I’m religious about it –it’s harder when traveling, but not impossible — but I’ve stuck to it more often than not.  You might also think of it as an easy way to eat more vegetables and fruit…and you can change the meals around when you need to.  For instance, if you’re out for breakfast with friends and splurge on an omelet, you have a sumptuous salad for dinner that night.  Flexibility is the key; feeling great is the goal.

Still, you might know, salads –with their forever chewing–can get old day after day.  A huge and filling vegan chili, along with other vegan soups or stir frys (fries??), creates diversion and, I’ll admit, much happiness.  If you’re really hungry, or about to run out of chili, do what Dave’s mom always did and serve it on elbow macaroni or as I do, with a scoop of brown rice mixed up with chopped cilantro. Maybe a pan of crusty cornbread?  Even if you aren’t interested in vegan eating –and I’m not sure you’ll think much about the vegan part once you’re  spooning this down — you’ll enjoy a chili that’s a spicy and rounded (cocoa and cinnamon do this), filling bowl of goodness that’s done in two shakes of a stick. Did I say you’ll have no guilt about this meal or that you’ll have a hot lunch for a few days at work or home?  Try this:

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COCOA-CHICKPEA CHILI            SERVES 8

Sauté some onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Add a huge dose of spices.  Throw in whatever vegetables you have, along with some wine, tomatoes, and vegetable stock.  A can or two of chickpeas or beans, and it’s done.  Do leave the vegetables fairly large so they’re beautifully colorful. No over-cooking allowed!

  • tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Onions, Chopped
  • Each: Carrots and Celery stalks, sliced
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • Garlic cloves, minced
  • Each: Red and yellow bell peppers, diced
  • cup Eggplant, peeled and diced
  • ounces Mushrooms, sliced
  • Red Potatoes, small, diced
  • tablespoons Chili Powder (I used Penzey’s medium.)
  • tablespoon Each: Dried Oregano and Dried Basil
  • cup Each: Red wine and water
  • cups Vegetable broth
  • 28-ounce cans Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • teaspoon Cocoa
  • teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • Each: 15-ounce Can Chickpeas and Black Beans, drained 
  • Each: Small zucchini, yellow squash, and crown of broccoli, large dice
  • teaspoon Red wine vinegar
  • teaspoon Sugar
  • Limes, quartered, for garnish
  • cups Tortilla Chips, garnish
  1. Heat olive oil and crushed red pepper over medium flame in a 10-quart soup pot for one minute. Add onions, celery, carrots, with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until softening. Add garlic, bell peppers, eggplant, mushrooms, and potatoes. Season with chili powder, oregano, and basil. Cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until nearly tender. Add wine and stir up bits at the bottom of the pot.
  2. Add water, vegetable broth, and tomatoes. Season with cinnamon, cocoa, and mustard; stir well. Stir in chickpeas, beans, zucchini, yellow squash, and broccoli. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook another 5 minutes or until squashes and broccoli are just becoming tender. Add wine vinegar and sugar. Taste and adjust seasonings, including vinegar and sugar.  Serve hot garnished with lime wedges and tortilla chips.
  3. Note: Gluten-Free–Check labels for spices, tomatoes, vegetable stock, beans, mustard, vinegar, and tortilla chips before using.

Cook’s Note:  Vegetables can be switched out for those you have on hand.

I originally published this recipe just last week on food52 dot com.  Visit the site–beautiful food, fun folks.

IMG_5487Sing a new song; make a new chili,

Alyce