The best part of my day is coming home from work and seeing this goofy guy sporting one of his many goofy grins. No matter what else is going on, when he hears me come in the door he sprints towards the front door like a dog on a mission*. Back when we first got Russell, I never would have imagined that he’d grow into this dog – the dog that followed you around, that ran to the front door to heartily greet you, even if you were only gone 5 minutes, and the dog that loves to be petted, cuddled and hugged. He’s definitely turned himself into a keeper – just like this vegetarian chili recipe (haha – was that the worst lead in ever?)
Being that we’re trying to eat more vegetarian meals, I was super excited to see this spicy vegetarian chili recipe in this month’s Food Network Magazine. The picture on the front cover had me convinced there was meat in this recipe – but au contraire – the pinto beans mimic the look of ground beef.
Speaking of ground beef, the secret ingredient that makes this chili taste meaty, while being fully vegetarian, is the addition of grated cauliflower during the last 10 minutes of cooking. The texture of the grated cauliflower and the meaty flavours of the recipe (from the chipotle pepper and the pinto beans) would have fooled us if we hadn’t prepared this chili ourselves. Although this is not a weeknight recipe due to the long cook time, this is definitely an easy recipe which simmers for a LONG time to build some incredible flavours. There are a couple of ingredients in this chili recipe that made me raise an eyebrow – the cocoa, the coffee, the grated cauliflower, to name a few. But one bite of the finished product and I was sold. This chili is perfect – meaty tasty, without the meat, and flavourful to boot. I didn’t think the chili was spicy and would add more chipotle peppers the next time. Make sure you adjust the heat to your own palette.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large bell peppers (1 green, 1 red), chopped
- 3 medium carrots, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ to 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from the chipotle pepper above)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup brewed coffee
- 1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ head cauliflower
- ½ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus torn leaves for topping (optional)
- Shredded cheddar cheese, sliced scallions or low-fat Greek yogurt, for topping (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrots and ½ teaspoon salt.Cook, stirring frequently until the carrots being to soften (about 8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for two more minutes.
- Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, chipotle, adobo sauce and tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato paste in brick red, about 4 minutes. Keep an eye on the mixture as it cooks and add a splash of water if it gets too dry and starts to stick to the pan.
- Add the coffee and simmer until almost completely reduced, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans and 2½ cups of water and bring to a simmer, over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chili thickens slightly, about 1½ hours.
- Meanwhile, trim the large stems off the cauliflower and coarsely grate the florets on a box grater. About 10 minutes before the chili is done cooking, add in the grated cauliflower and stir. Cook for 10 minutes and then remove from heat. Stir in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with toppings.