My vegetarian chilli has become a leeeeetle bit legendary with friends (even meat eating ones!) who come over for Sunday lunch. (pats self on the back, tries not to look too smug). In fact, one of The Gardeners best mates (Steve, I'm looking at you) will willingly come & help us out with our clumsy DIY projects and heavy lifting if bribed with a bowl or two & a glass of wine..
The thing is with this chilli- is it takes time, it's best made with dried beans, which require overnight soaking, and a good slow simmer for at least an hour, if not more depending on the bean used... But to compensate for this, I make LOADS & freeze it. Trust me on this, it is the ultimate comfort food life saver in the winter months.
The recipe itself is a little loose, I've been known to use various different dried beans, and even at a pinch to use tinned rather than the dried & soaked ones. I also generally use at least 2 types, it makes for a more interesting mouthful, but this isn't a 'rule'.
The other thing is, this recipe can be then used as a basis for loads of other delicious dishes (hellooooo vege cottage pie! And nachos, tacos & spaghetti sauce..........)
The thing number 3 is - it isn't super pretty to photograph, so I have yet to take a great pic of it. Don't let this put you off. It's deeply delicious.
- 500g (dried weight) of 2 types of beans. Try butter beans & black beans, cannellini beans & kidney beans.. One creamy & one with more texture seems to work well
- 1 medium onion- finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves -minced
- glug olive oil
- 2 tins tomatoes
- 1 large red pepper/capsicum (not necessary, but nice)-- finely chopped
- a glug of red wine
- 1 small fresh chili or one small dried chili- finely chopped/minced- or more if you like it hot.
- 1 tsp mild chili powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
- ½ tsp cinnamon ( this gives a deep, scented background, strange, but it really works!)
- 1 tsp cumin- ground
- 1 tbs vegetarian stock powder- I use Marigold, dissolved in 1 cup warm water
- Salt & Pepper
- If you're using dried beans- soak them over night in plenty of water. At least 12 hours- or longer if possible.
- Rinse the beans & drain well
- In a large saucepan, gently fry the onions & garlic until translucent
- Add in all the spices & fry for a minute until fragrant
- Add in the beans, tins of tomatoes ( I swish each tin out with a bit of water to get all the tomatoey goodness in), glug of wine, bay leaves and the stock. Make sure the beans are well covered, they will swell so if you need more water don't hesitate to add more.
- Put the lid on the saucepan & bring everything to the boil for 5 mins.
- Then take down the temperature and leave on a gentle simmer for around 45 mins, stirring occasionally. Add extra water if you need to.
- The chilli will take more or less time to be really cooked depending on the beans used. I find black beans take AAAAAAAGES. So keep testing at this point, the idea of this chilli is melting beanyness, not a chewy mouthful so I tend to slightly overcook the beans.
- Test for spice balance at this stage too- add in more herbs or chilli if necessary.
- Serve in a bowl with a sprinkle of cheese, or just as is. Great with parsnip fries, sautéed greens, or a salad and garlic bread. Also even better the next day.
- Don't forget to freeze what you don't use, ready for a lazy work day dinner or a warming lunch after a long gardening session.