Tag Archives: pepper

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.


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

Roasted Peppers and Garlic

24 Jun
Two of my favourite things together – a marriage made in heaven! Roasted peppers are so sexy somehow. Slippery and sweet, tangy and juicy. The garlic adds a hint of muskiness and that scentsational aroma is mouthwatering. I often serve these as a starter – but you could add them to sandwiches, salads, soups, pasta. They are a wonderful standby to have in the fridge. A jar of these can take you to wonderful culinary heights! I made them for a dinner the other week, and they were lapped up by the hungry hoards. They are satisfying, easy to make (fun too if you like playing with fire), and their taste is much more complex and deep then the rather minimal effort expended.
  • 4 – 6 red peppers
  • 1 or 2 green peppers
  • Paper bag
  • Tongs
  • Fire source
  • Cloves of garlic
  • Good olive oil (Extra Virgin if you have it)
  • A dash of balsamico if you have it
  • Fresh oregano or rosemary or thyme
  • Sea salt

Make sure you have access to a paper bag.

Basically you want to take the peppers, and char them over a heat source (I usually do this on the stove top) until they are completely blackened and burnt.

Use the tongs to rotate the peppers over the flame source. BE CAREFUL. They will pop and fizz and spit. Keep watch over them at all times.

When they are completely blackened, pop them in the paper bag, and twist the opening to ensure a good seal. When I made this recipe, I used a paper shopping bag and just folded over the top a couple of times. The peppers will steam in the paper bags and soften. After about 20 – 30 minutes, the peppers will be ready for the next step.

Meanwhile, heat your oven to approximately 180 C.

Put your garlic cloves in a small baking tray, and sprinkle liberally with olive oil and sea salt. Pop them in the oven and roast until caramelized, about 15 – 30 minutes depending on your oven.

Once the peppers are lukewarm, take them out from the paper bag, one at a time. Peel the peppers. The blackened skin should come straight off, but if you have problems, use a little strip of paper towel to rub off any pesky bits.

You should have some intensely deeply coloured smokey peppers ready for anything you want to throw at them!

Once your peppers have been peeled, core them, throw away the seeds, and cut away the stringy inner bits, and slice them in thin strips.

Put the sliced peppers in a bowl, and slick over with as much olive oil as your preference dictates. They will go all shiny and blood red or emerald green. A few drops of aged balsamico wont hurt either. Add a couple of teaspoons of fresh or a shake of dry herbs over this mixture.

Once the garlic has been roasted to your satisfaction (about 15 minutes or so – it will start to smell like roasted garlic) and is golden and soft, let it cool, slice it and add to the bowl. Don’t waste the olive oil either! Its been imbued with soft golden garlic scent and tastes – add this to your bowl of deliciousness too!

This keeps brilliantly in the fridge and is a magical addition to salads, sandwiches and pasta.

If youre serving as is, make sure you bring the mixture to room temperature before serving. The juice at the bottom of the bowl is phenomenal.

Photo copyright U-en Ng