Vegetarian chili gets a bad rap sometimes. I know the chili head purists out there are screaming into their pillows right about now at the very thought of the atrocity known as vegetarian chili. Well…get over it! Sometimes you’ve just gotta have a big piping hot bowl of chili and leave out the meat. This chili is not only delicious and good for you but it’s also an economical way to feed a crowd.
With the price of meat going up (what seems like daily) and the constant admonitions regarding our meat consumption, a chili recipe might be the perfect delivery system for helping out with both. Let’s face it, most people aren’t satisfied with a giant plate of lettuce and some other vegetable things tossed in for good measure. A big pot of chili mixes different textures and flavors that can satisfy even the most voracious of meat eaters without letting them feel like they haven’t really eaten. (Which is what most rabid meat eaters will claim after they eat anything that’s not meat.)
Chili is one of those great dishes that doesn’t really require a recipe. It’s a fantastic way to use up leftover veggies from your crisper drawer (yes…even those odds and ends little bits) before they go to that great vegetable slime pool in the corner of the drawer.
To get more pepper flavor, I like to use dried chile peppers. I’ve got lots of bags of the things and they add some really nice flavor to vegetarian chile. I also use them when I roast meats and for some soups. They’re really inexpensive…you should give ’em a try. For vegetarian chili, they really are perfect because they give the mix some of that deep rich flavor that sometimes is missing when you make a meatless chili.
Oh, and I used dried beans in this chili recipe (which I’ll explain how to cook in the directions), but you could easily use canned instead. I’ll put the quantities in the notes for you.
Now all you need is some cornbread for dipping!
- 1 Pound Dried Pinto Beans*
- 1 Dried Ancho Chile Pepper
- 1 Dried Chipotle Chile Pepper
- 2 Dried Guajillo Chile Peppers
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Red Onion (diced)
- 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
- 1 Acorn Squash (peeled, seeded and diced)
- 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Hot Paprika (could use smoked or sweet)
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Coriander
- 1½ Teaspoons Ground Cumin
- ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 28 Ounce Can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 8 Ounces of Quinoa (uncooked)
- 4 Cups Vegetable Stock
- Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Farenheit.
- In a large, 6 quart Dutch oven, add the dried beans (make sure you pick through them and remove any rocks or weird looking beans)
- Add enough water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Cover and cook in the oven for 75 minutes.
- Check the beans and see if they have softened to almost the consistency of canned beans. If not, add more water (if the water isn't above the beans anymore), cover and put back into the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Continue to check every 15 minutes for doneness. Remove from oven when they are almost as soft as canned beans.
- While the beans are cooking you can take care of the peppers by removing the stems and seeds.
- Tear the peppers into pieces and drop them in a heat safe bowl.
- Bring 2 cups of water to a boil then pour over the peppers.
- Let the peppers sit for 15 minutes.
- Strain the peppers and drop them into a blender along with ½ cup of the pepper soaking water and puree.
- In a large skillet add the oil and heat over medium high heat.
- Once oil is hot, add onions and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes while stirring occasionally.
- Add the squash to the pan and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, while stirring.
- While the squash is cooking, add the seasonings to the pan and let them cook a bit with the other vegetables.
- Remove from heat and scrape the vegetables into the pot with the beans.
- Pour the pureed pepper mixture into the pot.
- Put the pot on the stove over high heat and stir.
- Add the tomatoes, quinoa and stock to the pot and give everything a good stir to mix it well.
- Bring everything to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.
- The beans should be soft, but not mush, and the quinoa should also be done.
- If there's not enough liquid, you can add more stock, soaking water from the peppers or water.
- Serve with your favorite chili toppings.
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