Meatless Monday: Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Monday, January 23, 2012
With the Superbowl a mere 2 weeks ago, many are in a panic over menu planning for the big game. One of the most popular dishes for game day is chili. The wonderful thing about chili is that you can prepare it a hundred different ways using different ingredients.

For yesterday's NY Giants game, I prepared a veggie chili. The Hubs suggested the recipe, and I was pleasantly surprised. He's the guy who usually requires that animal protein be part of every meal. I, on the other hand, wouldn't mind a vegetarian diet. In most cases, our dinners are a compromise. I happily prepared it, and the Hubs happily ate it.

The real bonus is that this recipe has half the fat of traditional chili where ground beef is used. And flavor is not sacrificed. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. This is a much healthier alternative to using a store bought flavor packet for chili.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
Kosher salt

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 to 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce, chopped (This ingredient controls the spiciness. Use as little or as much as you prefer). I used a little less than half since I was preparing it with children in mind.
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 corn tortilla, cut into pieces

1/2 cup brewed coffee
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans (you could also use kidney or black beans or any combination)
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Sliced scallions
Fresh or pickled sliced jalapeno peppers
Plain low-fat, Greek yogurt as a healthier alternative to sour cream)

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Saute, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until the carrots soften. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

2. Add the seasonings: chili powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Stir to combine. Add the chipotle pepper, tomato paste, and tortilla pieces. Continue to cook over medium heat. Stir until the mixture turns brick red in color, about 4 minutes. Add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick to the saucepan.

3.  Add the coffee and simmer until almost completely reduced, about 30 seconds to a minute.

4. Stir in the tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans, and 2-1/2 cups of water. Stir and bring to a simmer of low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chili thickens slightly, about an hour.

5. Remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped cilantro, if using and season with salt, if necessary.

6. Garnish as desired. As you can see, I like a lot of garnishes on my chili. :)

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