Chili is always an autumn staple in my kitchen, mainly because of its accessibility and versatility. It can really be as basic or as complex as you want but, regardless of your chili style, it can serve as a great platform for a complex carbohydrate, fiber, and protein-dense meal.
I'm always one who gets excited over the prospect of garnishes, and chili is the perfect way to provide yourself and your dining companions with options to add their flavor specific flare. For the chili, I made a little pico, some lime tinged "crema", toasted organic corn tortillas, and, of course the obligatory avocado.
Urban flame roasted poblanos, coffee, raw cacao nibs, and aged balsamic vinegar all played their parts in adding depth of flavor to an autumn kitchen staple.
Autumn Vegetarian Chili
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, avocado oil, or olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tsp cumin seeds or 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 1 poblano, fire roasted, seeded, and finely chopped
- 2 bell peppers, red & yellow, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 large stalks celery, finely chopped
- 3 cups cooked mixed beans (adzuki, kidney, black, pinto)
- 1 can whole plum tomatoes
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup brewed coffee (optional, but suggested)
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cacao nibs (optional, but suggested)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro/coriander, coarsley chopped
- 4 corn tortillas, toasted
- Avocado, chopped
- Turmeric Lime Crema (recipe below)
- Fresh Pico (recipe below)
- Chop and prep all of your vegetables.
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the spices and toast for 2 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add peppers, carrots, celery,salt and pepper, and sauté a few minutes more. Add beans and tomatoes and allow chili to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add in balsamic vinegar, cacao nibs, and coffee and cook for at least 10 more minutes allowing the flavors to meld together. The longer you cook the chili the more flavorful it will become. Taste adjust salt and pepper if need and serve with garnishes.
Turmeric Lime Crema
- 1/2 cup Greek or Icelandic style yogurt
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 tsp turmeric
Whisk lime juice and turmeric to combine. Stir in yogurt to blend.
- 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbsp red onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, diced
- 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- A drizzle of olive oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine all of the ingredients into a bowl. Allow to marinate for at least an hour and serve.
Why Chili is the Perfect Dinner :
Balanced Bowl: You get your plant-based protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber from the beans and a plethora of phytonutrients from the vegetables. Phytonutrients are naturally protective plant based components that offer added benefits to the consumer. Carotenoids are provided from carrots and peppers, lycopene from the tomatoes, and resveratrol from wine, if utilizing instead of balsamic vinegar.
Nutrient Dense: This chili recipe is antioxidant rich and micro nutrient dense. The chili has high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Zinc. Vitamin C, which is found in the peppers, helps your body resist infection, and aids with wound healing. Vitamin A, which is found in the carrots, is essential for skin reproduction, eye health, and growth. Zinc, which is predominant in the beans, helps metabolize carbohydrates, is needed for enzymatic activities and assists with boosting immunity.
Economically Savvy: Not only does one pot go a long way, it's very affordable, especially if you utilize dried beans.
Flex Your Culinary Muscle: Chili is very forgiving and a great way to experiment with flavors and dimension for the novice or for the advanced cook. Play around with spices, vinegars, wine, beans, and vegetables and develop your own signature chili.
Meatless Monday: If you celebrate Meatless Monday or are just trying to integrate it into your weekly routine, chili is a familiar and accessible way to try vegetarian cuisine.
Limited Your Processed Foods: Unless rehydrating your own beans, a lot of the ingredients for the chili tend to be canned. If possible, select items in BPA free cans or boxes and utilize as much fresh produce as feasible. I like the vegetables to retain some bite to them to prevent a cohesive mush. For this recipe I closely monitored the vegetables to avoid a chili mush fest.