Thursday, 27 December 2012

"Secret" Ingredient Vegetarian Chili

In your travels around the food blogosphere, have you ever come across a "secret" ingredient that intrepid vegetarians claim will make meatless chili as smoky and rich as any carne?  This ingredient is one that I have come across myself on many blogs and in vegetarian/vegan cookbooks.  It's relative popularity is reason that I place "secret" in quotation marks (I always feel the need to justify quotation marks these days, another thing we can add to the list of things of which the internet made us overly aware!)

Anyway... I will put you out of your misery and nail-biting, suspense-filled agony and spill the beans (heh) on the "secret" ingredient.  It's cocoa. Cocoa powder does actually lend a certain depth and smokiness to vegetarian chili. It does not make it taste chocolatey at all - but at least there is now incontrovertible proof that chocolate makes everything better ;)

Mmmm, chocolatey! (Just kidding.)
The beauty of chili recipes is that you can play around with them.  Different beans, vegetables, meat substitutes, and spices can be substituted or added.  It can be adapted easily to your taste preferences and ingredients on hand.  Below is my favourite chili recipe, which I have developed through trial and error over the past year.  Although I enjoy this version very much, I encourage anyone interested in trying it to play around with the flavours.  I would love to hear about any variations.  The only thing that I wouldn't change too much is the quantity of cocoa.  Too little and it is undetectable, too much and the chili becomes bitter.  I also happily eat this chili without including any meat substitutes - the beans alone still supply a good amount of protein :)

"Secret" Ingredient Vegetarian Chili

 Makes 10-12 small bowls

  • 1-2 tbsp oil (my preference is canola)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2x540ml cans of beans (my preference is one of kidney and one of romano)
  • 800ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 800ml can diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 tbsp dried cilantro
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (this makes a relatively mild chili)
  • 1 package (200-400g) vegetarian Italian sausage, diced or vegetarian ground beef
  • 2 cups frozen peas or corn kernels
  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onions and oregano.  Cook until onions are soft and starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add vegetarian sausage or ground beef to pan and an extra teaspoon or two of oil if necessary.  Cook until meat substitute is browned. Set aside.
  3. Empty cans of crushed and diced tomatoes into a large saucepot over medium heat.  Stir in remaining spices. Heat for a minute or two.
  4. Add beans and drained meat substitute/onion mixture to saucepot.  Keep on heat for at least 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Spoon chili into individual bowls, top with cheese or sour cream, and serve!
I hope you enjoy :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the dinner inspiration! I made a few modifications, based on ingredients on-hand. It was great, and now I have frozen leftovers for future meals.


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