Although the official first day of fall isn’t until Wednesday, today is the first day that truly feels like the summer is coming to a close. While walking from the subway to my office building this morning, I actually regretted wearing a warm weather outfit. I guess that makes this an appropriate day to share my ultimate recipe for a cold weather favorite, Classic Vegetarian Chili.
Chili is one of those dishes that I make often and in a big batch because it’s simple to prepare and oh so versatile. Make chili on Sundays for an easy, football-friendly, crowd pleasing meal. Then use the leftovers later in the week for anything from chili-topped portabella burgers or chili stuffed burritos, to chili mac or taco salad.
This chili recipe is not only delicious and versatile, but super hearty and healthy. Because 99% of what I cook needs to be meat-eater approved, I’m always thinking of how to make my recipes hearty and flavorful enough to please everyone. That’s why in this recipe, I use a combination of lentils and chopped mushrooms to add another layer of heartiness and texture to the beans and vegetables. This dish goes even further than just pleasing meat-eaters and vegetarians as it’s also vegan, low in fat, and gluten-free; the perfect dish for casual, cold-weather entertaining with a modern crowd.
Classic Vegetarian Chili Serves: 6 Start to Finish: 1 hour
Ingredients 1 tablespoon Canola Oil 3 large cloves Garlic, peeled and minced 2 Yellow Onion (.75-1.0 lbs total) 1 large Carrot (.4-.5 lb total), peeled and diced 8 oz Mushrooms, sliced and diced (I used Baby Bellas) 1 Zucchini (.5-.6 lbs), chopped into small bite-size pieces 1 Red Bell Pepper (roughly .5 lb), cored/seeded/chopped 1 Jalapeno Pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely diced* 2 tablespoons Chili Powder ½ tablespoon Cumin Powder ½ tablespoon Coriander Powder ½ tablespoon Paprika 1 teaspoon Sugar Salt to taste (I used 2 teaspoons total) 1 14-oz can Diced Tomatoes** 1 14-oz can Crushed Tomatoes 2 14-oz cans Beans, drained and rinsed (I used black and pinto beans) 1 14-oz can Lentils, drained and rinsed 2 cups Water
To Make Heat oil and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. When garlic begins to sizzle, cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add diced onion. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add diced mushrooms, carrot, and salt (I added 1 tsp). Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini, red pepper, jalapeño, and all four spices. Cook for five minutes, then add tomatoes, beans, lentils, sugar and water. Stir to combine, salt to taste (I added another teaspoon). Cover and cook chili over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Uncover, reduce heat, and simmer for another 10-20 minutes until chili is thick and deep red in color. Garnish and serve with plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheddar, and fresh scallions if desired. Or use in any recipe that calls for chili.
*I remove all seeds and ribs from the jalapeno for a mild chili. Leave some of the ribs and seeds to increase the spice level.
**I always try to use Organic, No-Salt-Added canned beans and vegetables when available. The only can in this recipe that wasn’t salt-free is the can of diced tomatoes. Adjust salt accordingly.