Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bright Vegetarian Chili

I think food should look as good as it tastes. And if it doesn't taste good it might as well look good. But food that looks awful and tastes wonderful is a crying shame. And food that looks awful and tastes awful is unfortunitley in the majority.

This is how I feel about most bowls of chili. I can respect a beef chili that requires ample stove time, allowing the meat to fall apart and melt between your teeth but when it comes to vegetarian chili most bowls I come across are a uniform brown with barely recognizable, mushy vegetables. 

I was in a friends home last week and noticed a pot of chili he had made that was bright, cheerful and delicious, an autumnal burst of color in a bowl, probably the result of needing to get dinner on the table fast, and it was absolutely brilliant. It flipped my idea of chili upside down. 

So, with the constant sound of baseball and football crowds cheering in the background and a briskness in the air, this past weekend I threw a few things in a pot, and about half an hour later had a mean chili that is as pretty as it is good. Let it refrigerate overnight and it gets even better. Tortilla Chips, some nice orange cheddar, sliced avocado and a cold beer and I almost don't care who wins the game. Almost.

We are in Chili season after all, which I'd say starts with October Baseball and ends sometime after the Super Bowl, and if you live in the city like me and are dying to jump in a pile of leaves, this gets pretty close. 

Bright Vegetarian Chili

2 tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chili
small pinch bhut jolokia (optional)
2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/8" pieces
1 red pepper, sliced into 1/2" strips and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 14.5 oz. can of crushed tomatoes with liquid
3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 eight oz. can organic kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 eight oz. can organic barlotti beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and saute for about five minutes. Add the garlic and cumin seeds, cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Then add the tomato paste and evenly coat the onion and garlic. Add the cayenne, paprika, chipotle and bhut jolokia, continue to stir until well combined and then add the carrots and peppers, saute for 10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes with their liquid, the beans and about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Cover and cook another 10-15 minutes just until the carrots are tender but still have a little bite. Add more broth if too dry and a pinch of salt if needed. Serve immediately.

I didn't actually measure any of the spices as I made this so I've approximated them in my recipe. Feel free to tinker, this version has quite a kick.


  1. You have the best recipes and the best stories!! This looks so yumm!

  2. I'm definitely going to try the "Bright Vegetarian Chili," but have you tried the Frog Commissary recipe for Vegetarian Chili? The ingredient list is a mile long ... but it's always a hit in the Livingston household. Thought you'd like the tip about a "Philly-style" V-Chili.

  3. Oh, Yes! I will have to make that one some day. My mom has made it before. The Frog Commissary is the best, for just about everything!

  4. u made me so damn hungry darling. :)