Chunky Chili

I stuck a piece of butternut squash in the dish to add color and show you the approximate size of the chunks. The smaller the chunks, the quicker the dish will cook.

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I am not a big chili fan, mainly because most recipes use tomato sauce and my body does not like cooked tomatoes in any form. Then, in the February issue of Bon Apptit (gift subscription from my friend Paula), there was an article on chili that emphasized that not all chili has to red. That caught my eye. I scanned the article and zeroed in on butternut squash as an ingredient and decided to create my own vegetarian chili recipe without tomatoes and with fewer ingredients than the ones in the magazine. (The one with squash did use tomatoes.) I call my crock pot version Chunky Chili.

Utensils: Cutting board & knife, crock pot or large pot, strainer, fry pan or grilling pan
Prep. Time: About 20 minutes if the beans are cooked & squash is purchased already peeled & cut
Cooking Time: About one hour, if the beans are cooked
Category: Vegan & Gluten/Sugar Free

Ingredients
water or soup stock (2-3 cups)
one cup peeled & cubed butternut squash (purchased cut and peeled)
1/2 cup rice, rinsed (I used black rice, but you can use any rice you like)
1 cup cooked beans or dry beans that have been soaked  several hours (I used red chili beans)
2-3 garlic cloves, cut into smaller pieces or left whole
one leek or small onion, sliced
1/2 package of tempeh* (You can substitute bulghur or ground walnuts)
1-2 tsp. Mexican seasoning blend (I bought mine from www.freshlife.com)
1 Tbl. olive or macadamia oil

Directions

1. In a crock pot or Dutch oven type pot, place cubed squash, rinsed rice, cooked or soaked beans, garlic and leek. Add about 2 cups of water or soup stock to start and place pot on medium to high heat.
2. When the ingredients start to bubble, turn heat to low. During this time you can grill or fry the tempeh, let it cool, and then grate it into small pieces. Add to the pot along with one-two teaspoons Mexican seasoning blend.
3. Cook until squash is soft and beans are easy to bite through. (If you use canned beans instead of soaked, you can add them when you add the tempeh*, since they are fully cooked.)
4. Check the pot occasionally to see if you need to add more water or stack, because the rice absorbs a lot of water, and depending on the rice you use, you may need more water. You may also want to add some salt & pepper instead of more Mexican seasoning if you want to go easy on the Mexican spices. Or, if you like it HOT, add more Mex. seasonings
5. When the dish is fully cooked, stir in the oil for additional flavor and serve hot, perhaps with corn bread.

* A soybean cake made from the whole soybean. See Glossary for a fuller definition.

Yield: About one quart
Note: Overnight the chili will thicken so you may have to add some water or stock to it before heating it.  If you are a tomato fan, you can also use tomato juice instead of water.

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