Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

YESSSS!!!!! There is a chill in the air. You know the feeling.
Yesterday was the type of morning when you can actually feel the seasons change. Here in Florida, I wait and wait for that day. While the rest of the country is going to apple orchards and putting up Halloween decorations, I wait. It feels wrong to drink cider or bust out the candy corn when it is 80 degrees. Very, very wrong.

But October is here and it has happened! The air has changed and all of a sudden it is autumn, and a flood of nostalgia rushes in. It happens every year. I am overwhelmed with the desire to bake cookies with cinnamon and nutmeg, roast brussels sprouts with sage, and fill my kitchen with the aromas of the fall.

Today, though, I want chili. A cool Saturday morning with college football on TV calls for chili, and I am almost positive it is some sort of sense memory that makes me feel this way. The chili of my youth was a meaty and mild one, so today I came up with a meat-free chili filled with vegetables and fresh peppers for a special kick. Chili is one of those easily veganized foods. You can just omit the meat and fill your chili with veggies and beans, or you can start with some savory mushrooms to add a beefy flavor. I was looking for an authentic chili taste, so I opted for some Boca crumbles.

This hearty meal is great for casual entertaining because it's easy, and can be topped with a bunch of fun things, allowing your guests to personalize their dishes. I served mine with sliced green onions, culantro, lime wedges, and sour cream (vegan). You can also add sharp cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, fresh jalapenos, cilantro, grilled corn, and diced red onions. Make it fun!

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons light flavored oil
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeƱo pepper, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup red wine
2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo, seeds removed for less heat
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 ½ teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons maple syrup or sugar
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 cup veggie "beef" crumbles
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 ½ cups cooked beans (pinto, black, chili)

1. In a stockpot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium high/high. Add onions, saute for 4-5 minutes. Add carrot, celery and garlic, and saute for 4 more minutes. Add peppers and spices, cooking until mixture has a golden brown hue.
2. Add red wine and cook until liquid has evaporated.
3. Mix in chipotles, tomato paste, and veggie crumbles. Heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Add tomatoes, beans, and 2 cans of water. Stir mixture thoroughly, cover, and bring to boil.
5. Reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for at least 1/2 hour. If chili is too thick, add water to get desired thickness.
6. Serve with topping and enjoy!


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