Vegetarian Chili + Tacos

11 Jul

Taco DinnerThis is a meal for a celebration. A birthday, a party, a World Cup final. Or even just because. Its so delicious – and its good for you too! No cream or butter, and lots of fresh vegetables. You can make it vegan by cutting out the sour cream and cheese sides (or finding wonderful alternatives – soy cheese is surprisingly tasty). It looks lush and bountiful, and making it is really the work of one afternoon. There are lots of fiddly bits, and I admit, I dont make my own tacos, and I supplement my salsa by purchasing a good branded one (I used Paul Newman’s peach salsa this evening). The heat is also up to you. I give measurements for a medium spicy chili, but really do what feels natural to you.

I also use dried pinto beans. Why? Well, in part because I am stubborn, and Ive always made it that way. But also because even with an overnight soaking, they need at least 3 – 4 hours to cook. This forces you to cook the chili for long enough so that it really becomes thick and luscious, and for all the flavours to meld.

Feel free to halve this recipe, but really, its a meal for a big group of people!

Serves 8 – 12

Vegetarian Chili

  • 500 g pinto beans
  • 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 7 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 – 2 red chilis, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp crushed chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp smoked hot paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250 g can white beans
  • 250 g lentils
  • 250 g can kidney beans
  • 500 g can pomodoro tomatoes in their own sauce
  • 1 – 2 c fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • handful of dried chanterelle and portobello mushrooms reconstituted in hot water for 15 minutes
  • juice of 3 small limes
  • Handful of Italian parsley (or fresh coriander if you really must)

In a saucepan or heatproof bowl, rinse and sort the pinto beans. Make sure there are no grit or stones in the beans – a nasty bite of food if there ever was. Cover with water and leave overnight.

The next day, about 4 – 6 hours before you want to eat, in a large, heavy pan (I use a dutch oven or heavy bottomed 5 quart stock pan), over medium low heat, heat oil and soften onions and garlic. Saute until glossy, and then add the celery, carrots, mushrooms, pepper and chilis, mixing well after each addition. Cook for about 3 – 5 minutes until the mixture has softened and let go of some of its liquid.

Add the bay leaf, basil, cinnamon, herbs, pepper flakes, cayenne, coriander, cumin, oregano, and smoked hot paprika, and mix very very well. Season with salt and pepper.

Add about 3/4 of the pinto beans (you can freeze the rest and use in a soup or stock), the white beans, lentils, and kidney beans, mixing well after each addition. Add the pomodoro tomatoes and their liquid and stir to combine. Cover and let simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.

After about 15 minutes, uncover the pan. It will be very liquid. Add the fresh tomatoes, the mustard, cocoa powder, sugar, and red wine. Chop the dried mushrooms fine, and add to the stew, along with the juice of 3 small limes. Cook, over very low heat, for at least 3 hours and up to 6 if you want, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes so it doesnt burn on the bottom. The chili will go from liquid to a very thick savoury stew. Taste for spice and salt and pepper, and adjust to your liking.

Just before serving, sprinkle over some chopped fresh parsley. If you like fresh coriander (I hate it), please feel free to substitute!

Tomato Salsa

I dont add any spice to this salsa because I think it would interfere with the chili and the bought salsas I am serving. However, if this is the only salsa youre serving, feel free to add 1 – 2 chilis, chopped fine.

  • 1 – 2 cups baby roma tomatoes (or 2 – 3 large juicy tomatoes)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/4 cup mixed fresh basil and Italian parsley, chopped
  • Juice of 4 – 5 small limes

Chop the tomatoes in a small dice. Add the minced onions, and salt and pepper, and mix well. Chop the basil and Italian parsley, and add and mix well. Juice 4 – 5 small limes, and add this liquid to the salsa. Mix, cover and store in the fridge until serving time.

Guacamole

I am a purist. I like guacamole simple – as many avocados as I can afford, mashed with a bit of salt and pepper and lime. Unbelievably delicious.

  • 4 ripe avocados (dark skinned)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of 5 small limes
  • 1 avocado pit

Cut your avocados in half lengthwise, using the pit as a guide for your knife. Using a spoon, carve out chunks of avocado into a pretty serving dish. Make sure you scrape out all the beautiful dark green flesh that is right next to the peel.

Mash the avocado with a fork until it is a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the juice of 5 small limes. You wont taste the limes in the finished guacamole, just a really intense avocado flavour.

Pop the avocado pit into the serving bowl to ensure that the avocado does not brown, and store, covered, in the fridge until time to serve.

To serve

To serve this feast, you will need:

  • White and yellow corn tacos, heated briefly in the oven (figure 3 taco shells per person, or 2 if you add the wraps)
  • Soft burrito wraps, warmed briefly in the oven
  • Vegetarian chili
  • Tomato Salsa
  • Store bought salsa as an addition, refrigerated
  • Guacamole
  • Shredded lettuce (I use a combo of lettuce, baby spinach and parsley)
  • Sour cream
  • Shredded cheddar or jack cheese

Arrange on pretty serving platters, and let your guests make their own! So much fun!

All photos copyright Chan KY

Hand: Ezril

4 Responses to “Vegetarian Chili + Tacos”

  1. Tes July 11, 2010 at 4:04 pm #

    It is so healthy and delcious. What a spread!

    • delectableblog July 11, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

      Thanks Tes! It was delicious. Fed 7 people, with loads of snacking during the WC finals, and left overs for tomorrow, which I am muchly looking forward to. 🙂

  2. Tammy McLeod July 11, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    I love Mexican food because of the “build your own” opportunities. I appreciate all of the work you put into this post.

    • delectableblog July 11, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

      Thanks Tammy! I love it too. I really enjoy seeing what other people do when they get to make combos. They seem to take a great delight in it as well – its truly interactive eating. I also added some white corn tortilla chips to this meal, so some people were making their own version of nachos! Great fun.

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