Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Modular" Chili

Tonight for dinner, I made one of my favorite standby dishes for a busy night.  John and I both love chili any time of year, but in the winter, it's extra special because it's such a warming dish, and considering how chilly it was today, we needed it.  The reason I call it "modular" is because you can basically use a variety of ingredients depending on what you have on hand, and it always comes out good. As long as you have some amount of canned tomatoes, cooked beans, and basic chili spices, you are good to go.  Sauteed fresh veggies are also a good addition, as well as TVP or soy crumbles.  Then once you have it cooked, you can serve over baked potatoes, with tortilla chips, or just plain in the bowl, with Tofutti sour cream and vegan cheese, if you like.

My recipe from tonight follows below, but I strongly encourage you to make like a jazz musician and improvise.  I will only give approximations of the spices I used, because I don't really measure.

Three Bean Chili with TVP, Onion & Pepper

5 cups of mixed beans (red kidney, black, and pinto beans prepared from dried, pre-soaked and simmered with kombu*)
2-14 oz. cans of fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 cup TVP
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp chile powder
2 pinches oregano
Dash garlic powder
1 tsp salt
Additional salt & pepper to taste

Remove kombu from bean mixture after beans have reached desired softness.  Mix in canned tomatoes and bring back to a simmer.  Mixture should not be soupy, but should not be too chunky either.  Add a cup of water if it seems too dry.  Once a simmer is achieved, add TVP to rehydrate in liquid.  Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, heat 1/4 cup water over medium heat in a small skillet.  Add diced onion and bell pepper and saute until tender crisp, about 5 minutes.  Add onion and pepper to tomato and bean mixture and incorporate.  Add remaining ingredients and continue to simmer for the remaining 5 minutes.  Serve with Daiya vegan cheese and blue corn tortilla chips.

*Kombu is also known as kelp.  It adds some minerals to the beans and is rumored to aid in their digestibility.  You can buy it in dried packages in health food stores.

Another positive that I haven't mentioned yet is that after both of us had a good-sized bowl for dinner, there is still more than a quart left.  And it tastes better after the flavors have had time to soak in overnight!  I made it on a Thursday, but I highly recommend making this on a weekend so that you can take it to work for lunch a few times throughout the week.  It's an easy way to make sure you have a healthy, filling lunch on hand.  I am the farthest thing from a morning person, so having food that's ready to go out the door with me at 6:30 AM is a huge deal.  Happy eating!


  1. measuring, who needs it:)

    chile, oregano, garlic, got it!

  2. That's my girl! As I post more recipes with terribly estimated measures, I hope you will stick with me, haha.