Friday, January 28, 2011

Three Bean Chili

Chili is one of those foods that I know better than to make as a Sunday dinner dish. As much as I want my family to try new foods there are limits; even my husband, who never declines anything I put in front of him at dinner, draws the line at chili. Particularly vegetarian chili. So I rarely make it. Apparently none of them appreciate beans like I do. This week I had a real craving for chili so decided I'd make a batch knowing that I'll have to freeze half of it and spend the next couple of months eating it for lunch every day. Not the worst lunch fate I can imagine.

Making chili is a colourful exercise, as evidenced by my prep:

I love the effect a pot of simmering chili has on my kitchen. The whole house feels warmer, cozier. A sweet, spicy scent permeates the air that I imagine is thanks to the chili powder, cumin and tomatoes melding together in the pot. It's the kind of dish that, when cooking, sets a mood that I like to feel in my house. It makes it feel like people live here, and live well. Which we do.

This particular chili recipe is relatively quick to put together and cook. I found it in a book I bought two years ago when I decided I needed to be healthier. The book is Eat, Drink & Weigh Less, and it's a good guide to eating healthy and well without going on a 'diet'. I don't do diets. I like to eat. I'm not a fussy eater and will eat pretty much anything, and try to do so in moderation. If I start to feel heavy then I try and eat less. I also started running around the time I read ED&WL and I've kept it up. So despite appearances to the contrary (I seem to feature a lot of dessert recipes on this blog!) I do try and live healthy. Most of the time. This chili is one of the dishes that helps me do that.

Easy Three Bean Chili is one of a bunch of great recipes in ED&WL developed by Mollie Katzen and can also be found on this website.

Easy Three Bean Chili

2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups small-diced onion
1 cup diced bell peppers (a mix of red, yellow, and green is nice)

1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs minced or crushed garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
big pinch of cayenne pepper
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes packed in tomato puree

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
freshly ground black pepper

Place a large saucepan or soup pot over medium-high heat and wait 2 minutes. Add the oil and wait about 30 seconds, then add the onion, peppers, and salt. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and both the onions and peppers are beginning to soften.

Add the chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano, basil, and cayenne; sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil.

Add all the beans, and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and let the chili simmer gently for 20 minutes, or as long as 1 hour. (If simmering longer, give it a stir every 10 minutes or so to see if it needs some additional stock.)

Grind in some black pepper, and taste to adjust the salt. Serve hot.

I have been known to enjoy this chili topped with some grated cheddar cheese or a small dollop of sour cream. Some diced avocado would be nice too!

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