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I'm not a strict vegetarian, but I do believe in eating fewer meals that use meat as a protein source. This fabulous chili is a simple dish composed of three kinds of beans and lots of vegetables. I like to make a big batch on the weekend and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for a quick meal during the week. This chili is pleasantly but not overwhelmingly spicy. Check out the amount of chili peppers before you start. If the amount of fresh chilies or chili powder makes you cringe or scoff, add less or more, respectively. Also, feel free to use different kinds of beans or mash some of the beans to give the chili a smoother texture.

Assemble together:

Preparation:

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, bell peppers, onions, and garlic to the pot and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring often to keep things from burning.

While this is cooking, remove the stem and seeds from the chili peppers and finely mince them. Also open the cans of tomatoes and beans and drain all the beans in a large colander and rinse them with water. Do NOT drain the tomatoes, as the juice is going into the chili.

Once the onions are a nice golden brown, add the chili peppers along with the ground chili powder and cumin. Cook for an additional two to three minutes. Add the tomatoes with juice to the pot, crushing the tomatoes to bits with your fingers. Dump in the rinsed beans and the 1 cup tomato juice. Mix everything and check the taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low temperature that maintains a nice, quiet simmer. Leave the pot uncovered and let it cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the consistency often and add more tomato juice or water if things look a bit dry. Taste it again at the end and add more seasonings.

At this point you can serve the chili immediately or let things cool down before throwing it in the fridge or freezer. Toppings can be anything from sour cream or cheddar cheese to fresh salsa or a shot of hot sauce. You can even serve this over white or brown rice. However, I think chili really isn't chili without a big side of steaming cornbread.



Adapted from peanut's bible, The Joy of Cooking.

When I need an easy meal, I need one that can be on the table within 10 minutes of me walking in the door. This requires minimal slicing, dicing, seasoning, and stirring. And Leanne Ely's Saving Dinner provided me one with this chili recipe, by utilizing two essential techniques.

  1. Use a crock pot/slow cooker (which means I assemble the ingredients before I leave for work, and when I walk in the door, it's ready)
  2. Use prepackaged seasoning (minimal slicing and dicing!)
Needless to say, if you don't have either one of those on hand, this recipe will be a difficult vegetarian chili.

Ingredients:

(If you don't have taco seasoning mix on hand, try 2 teaspoons oregano with 2 teaspoons cumin and 2 tablespoons chili powder, and throw in some onion or garlic (dried if you have it, if not, saute some first... but now we're doing more slicing and dicing, which wasn't part of the "easy" plan now, was it?))

Preparation:
Cube the sweet potato into bite size pieces. Toss it in the crock pot. Rinse and drain the beans. Toss them in the crock pot. Toss in the rest of the ingredients. Turn the crock pot on low, cover, and cook for 6-8 hours (I'm away at work for 10 hours, and it comes out fine). The chili will be thick. If it comes out too thick, next time, add more salsa, or add a few tablespooons of water in at the beginning to. (I find VooDoo Bayou and Mrs. Renfro's line of salsas are too watery to serve with chips or to prepare Mexican dishes but just right for this recipe).

Optional: (for the nights when you're ambitious enough to take it one step beyond easy)
Chop some cilantro or scallions and throw them over the top. Grate some cheddar cheese and use that as a topping. Warm some tortillas to serve on the side or spoon the chili into the center, fold the sides over, and make a faux burrito.

Serves about four to six people.

This is quite possibly the easiest vegetarian chili recipe of them all. I grew up with my mother making this chili from time to time; Now it has become a staple of my bachelor diet. While I am not a vegetarian, I was largely raised that way and even now limit my meat intake to the occasional fish or fowl.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 can (15.5oz) light red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can (10.75oz) condensed tomato soup
  • 1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

Preparation:
Add salt then boiling water to TVP and let sit until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Dice onion and sauté in oil on medium heat for two minutes in a large sauce pan. Add TVP mixture and all other ingredients to onion. Mix well and heat until hot.

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