I mildly regret not having tried my hand at chili back when I was still doing a lot with ground turkey. It would be nice to be able to say I did that at least once, even though I wasn't the world's biggest chili fan. I like to think that if I've had something once, or even many times, and found that it wasn't that great or was only really good some of the time, I can improve upon it at home. Many's the time I've eaten gumbo that looked and acted suspiciously like canned tomato soup with a few random pieces of rice, okra and/or shrimp. (I'm looking at you, Wild Wing Cafe.) But every time I made it myself, it was great. Not to toot my own horn, but it was. And now that I no longer eat any of the meats that were the cornerstone of my homemade version, I can at least look back fondly upon the days when I made it and it kicked ass.
Alas, my first attempt at chili was meat-free. Having also never eaten veggie chili before, I had to stop and think about what goes into chili besides ground meat, beans and tomatoes. As it happened, a couple of bell peppers in the backyard were due to be picked and we had half an onion and a couple of jalapenos left over from the last time Steve made guacamole, so we had enough on hand to make a truly veggie chili. I never thought about adding corn, although I'm sure that would have been good. Basically, I used the above fresh veggies plus a bunch of cans of beans and one can of tomatoes, added some spices and stirred it up until I had something remarkably like chili.
Five-bean veggie chili:
2 tbsp canola oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, finely diced
1/2 medium-large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups water
2 Knorr brand cilantro cubes
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 can navy beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with their juice
1 can fat-free refried beans
2 tsp dried Mexican oregano
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add diced peppers, onion and garlic and stir well. Add water and bring to a boil. Add cilantro cubes, stir well and reduce heat. Add next four cans of beans and tomatoes; stir well. Add refried beans and stir well to blend with liquids and thicken soup. Add spices and raise heat to boil off excess liquid, stirring often for 10-15 minutes or as needed. Serve alone or with rice, cornbread, tortilla chips, etc.
Not bad! Although next time I'll probably use less water - maybe one cup or less, since the undrained tomatoes add quite a bit. I'm really not sure how much time I spent on this, but it seemed like at least half of that time I was boiling off the excess liquid until it was thick enough to call chili. Flavorwise, I give myself an A! Next time (and I'm sure there will be one, since flexible recipes like these are right up my alley) I'll probably add a bit more spice, possibly in the form of the dried red chilies I get from the Indian grocery store on Two Notch Rd. I'm sure I'll try it with corn at least once and maybe also experiment with different hot peppers from the produce section.
So, that was my lunch hour today. Tonight we'll be going out someplace where I can load up on pasta for the big race tomorrow. If any of you in the Columbia area are doing the Ray Tanner Home Run, hopefully we'll run into each other - and good luck!