Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Vegetable Chili

CHILI FOR DAYS!  This weeks recipe features a veggie lover’s chili and a rant about my choice to eat a plant-based diet.  This comforting and hearty chili is by no means a traditional chili recipe, but a recipe tailored specifically to my taste preferences (I like the bright flavor of a lot of vegetables in my dishes) and to my dietary lifestyle (a plant-based diet, no onions or garlic).  People often wonder why I feel so strongly about the foods I omit from my diet.  Why, they ask?  The short and socially polite answer is that consuming animal protein makes me really sick.  I’m doing decidedly better in the onion department, but the subsequent fever and strong gastro-intestinal problems after eating them strongly impact my life and my well being.  While it has become increasingly and much more socially accepted to eat Vegan, it never fails to baffle people that I won’t want onions or garlic.  How could anyone not like garlic?  And this always leaves me speechless, because a briefing on my bowel movement really shouldn’t be part of a polite dinner conversation or chit-chat with serving personal at a restaurant.  Also, it’s probably not best placed as a prelude to a recipe…but hey, there you go.


You are most certainly welcome to add ingredients such as onions, garlic or ground beef to our chili recipe.  On the other hand, my husband and I worked hard to spice our chili correctly and to include ingredients that add texture as well as flavor so that this vegan concoction holds the essence of a traditional chili.  Note, for example, how the Bulgur Wheat is similar in texture to crumbled ground beef.
I hope sharing our recipes shows that just because I prefer to eat a plant-based diet, certainly does not mean I want to sacrifice the pleasure of cooking and eating well—and yummy.  I’m really not interested in faux “meat” and “dairy” products, or any type of remorse-diet foods.  The goal in the kitchen is to nourish my body.  In this manner, we both feel passionate about making vegetables take center stage in the dishes we cook and making them taste “right.” 
People often wonder if the diet I keep is something I could sustain, or if I feel like I’m missing out on culinary experiences.  In my case, feeling ill is unsustainable.  To me, it's not worth to compromise my health for convenience or something I might want to eat. 

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 can (15 oz.) Pinto Beans
  • 1/2 cup Bulgur Wheat
  • homemade Vegetable stock or water
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 small can of Tomato Paste
  • 3 large Heirloom Tomatoes;  diced
  • 2 Bell Peppers;  julienned
  • 1 ear fresh Corn; cut off the cob
  • 2 stalks Celery;  chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 heaping tbsp. Chili Powder (we made our own mixture by combining: 1 tsp. Paprika, 1 tsp. Ground Cumin, 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper, 1 tsp. Oregano)
  • 1 Lemon;  juiced
  • fresh Cilantro and Parsley;  minced

  • Wash and clean all fresh produce.
  • Combine the beans into a colander and rinse them clean.
  • Warm 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of vegetable stock in a small pot.  Add 1/2 cup of Bulgur Wheat and bring the everything to a boil.  At this point, lower the temperature to a simmer and cook until the Bulgur absorbed all the liquid.  Test for doneness.  It is done when the grain is soft but has a tender texture.
  • In a large pot or large skillet, warm 2 Tbsp. of cooking oil and roast the corn.
  • While the corn is browning, cut the vegetables and add them to the pot to sauté in the following order:  bell pepper, celery, and finally the tomatoes. 
  • Next, add 2 cups of vegetable stock, tomato paste, ground cumin and chili powder and stir to combine.  Also add the bulgur and the beans into the chili.
  • Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  After the cooking time has passed, give the soup a good stir and have a taste test.  Depending on the ripeness of the ingredients, it might be a good idea to season with a little salt.
  • Spoon into a deep dish or bowl, garnish with a generous dash of freshly chopped herbs and a good spritz of lemon juice.
  • Enjoy!
       Nina & Spencer

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