Saturday, February 14, 2015

Where's the beef? Homemade vegan chili

I am a meateater at heart.  In the summer, I am your typical suburban dad who fancies himself the master of the grill.  But at any time of the year, give me a juicy hamburger, a cheesesteak, some bratwurst or a few slices of bacon, and I'll be as happy as a white girl in Starbucks.

But there are still some dishes where I actually prefer the vegetarian option over its meatier counterpart.  This is probably due to my sister who went vegetarian during her sophomore year in college and never looked back, and over the years I've acquired a few recipes from her that I've kept in rotation.  Vegetarian chili is one of them.

Nothing is better in the deep dark of winter than a big vat of steaming hot chili, so I made a batch for a group of friends who stopped by last night.

First step, assemble your ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 sweet potatoes, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs chili powder
  • 2 Tsp ground cumin
  • 1 can each: black, white, red, pinto beans
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup chipotle sauce
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 28 oz, can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
Sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes, add the spices and sauté for a minute more, then dump in all the other ingredients at once.  Stir, bring to a boil, then let simmer for an hour.

(My sister didn't make up this recipe on her own.  It's from Cooking Light, 2005.)

When you're finished, if you want to downgrade from vegan to just vegetarian, serve with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, and some crusty French bread.

Watch your friends' dubious expression at meatless chili turn into squeals of delight as they shovel down the batch inside of ten minutes.  "Where's the beef?"  More like, "where's the recipe?"


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