Although I don’t consider myself a vegetarian, I would much rather eat a bowl filled with roasted vegetables than a juicy steak. When it comes to chili, then, I am drawn to vegetarian versions, with lots of vegetables, beans, and complex spices. I found this recipe on Simply Recipes one Saturday morning and, after a quick trip to the farmer’s market, the ingredients were happily bubbling in my favorite green pot.
This chili is a wonderful mid-week meal, as it only takes about an hour to prepare, most of which is time spent simmering. Served with a topping of sharp cheddar cheese and a side of homemade cornbread, I doubt that even the most devoted meat eaters would turn down a bowl.
Vegetarian Chili with Black Beans
(adapted from Simply Recipes) Serves 8-10
1 1-pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes Olive oil 2 yellow onions, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 2 medium zucchini, chopped 2 large red bell peppers, cored, seeded, diced 2 poblano peppers, cored, seeded, diced 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely minced (Taste and check the heat of the jalapeños. If very hot only use one, if mildly hot, use two. Wash hands with soap and water after handling. Do not rub eyes.) 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, including liquid (or 2 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped) 1 14-ounce can vegetable stock 1 Tbsp ground cumin 2 Tbsp Spanish paprika 2 Tbsp hot chili powder (add more/less, depending on your spice tolerance) 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chopped oregano or 2 teaspoons dried 2 cans black beans 3 Tbsp lemon juice 1 teaspoon sugar 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional) Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Scatter eggplant cubes in a shallow roasting pan and slather with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside.
In a large (5-6 quart) thick-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Add the red bell peppers, poblano peppers, zucchini, and jalapeño chili peppers. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes to the pot along with any liquid that may have been in the can (if using canned) and the vegetable stock. Add oregano, cumin, and Spanish paprika. Add chili powder to desired heat. Stir in the eggplant cubes (carefully as to not break them up), and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.
Add the black beans, lemon juice, sugar, and chopped cilantro. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions.