Veggie Mushroom Chili, Step-by-Step

I love a traditional, spicy chili, slow-simmered. This is a vegan-friendly version, designed to simmer in the oven while you watch a movie, chase your kids around, or finish that report you need to get written. I hope you enjoy it. Since I get requests for recipes, I’ll walk you through it. You can most definitely adjust the proportions – this makes a large Dutch oven full, which is dinner, plus lunch, for two, and several more meals’ worth for the freezer, or just enough for a big crowd for dinner.

You’ll need:

Olive or canola oil (I am using canola these days because it is produced in Canada)

2 onions

2 cloves garlic

3 stalks celery

2 large carrots

1 green and 1 red bell pepper

1 jalapeno

2 cans or l large bowl of cooked beans, as you like (kidney are traditional, but we had chickpeas and black-eyed peas on hand)

2 cans diced tomatoes stewed without salt (large cans, 28oz.)

1 T/15ml each of chili powder, oregano, smoked paprika

1 chopped chipotle in adobo (or another jalapeno and a bit more smoky paprika)

1/4c/60ml red lentils (split peas will also work, but take longer to cook)

If you’re working alone, chop everything, then start. If you are working as a duo, chop the onions and garlic, and the other can stir and manage the cooking while one chops.

Heat the oil over medium heat. Turn the oven on to 350F

Add the onions and garlic:

Stir and sweat these until they start to get shiny, then add the celery:

 

 

 

 

 

You can use a machine to chop, but honestly, the time to chop each vegetable gives just about the right gap for the prior one to cook a little. Now for the carrots – these aren’t a traditional chili vegetable, perhaps, but they have the tremendous effect of adding a little sweetness to the chili, as do the onions as they sweat down more and more.

 

After the carrots, the peppers, the most tender of the vegetables, come last. Use any colour, but red and green give a great combination. Continue to cook until this mixture of vegetables (the “holy trinity plus” or a mirrepoix) have begun to soften nicely. Now you’re ready for the rest of the ingredients.

Tomatoes come first, then the beans. Stir everything well so you get a good mixture.

Canned beans are easy and fast, but they often have a lot of added salt, which most of us don’t need any more of in our modern diets. We get enough naturally. In the EAT section of this blog you can find a recipe to cook your own; they can also be prepared very nicely in a pressure cooker.

Adding a few red lentils will help it thicken and contribute to the meatier texture some people prefer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring this to a simmer over medium heat, then put it all in the oven uncovered for at least an hour. 

 

It will cook down and thicken considerably; you can let it carry on for as long as it takes until you are ready to serve. Sometimes we will make a batch of cornbread on the side, but it really didn’t need anything else. Enjoy!

I’m always grateful for the opportunity to cook together with friends or family and to have a warm, low-maintenance dinner at the ready. Freeze whatever you don’t need, and remember it’s always better on the second day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These Savoury Biscuits are Sweet

Cheddar Sage BiscuitWe are very conscious of food waste in our house, so when we cook, we save vegetable scraps to make broth. We also roasted a chicken earlier in the week, and the carcass went into the stock pot to make chicken soup. Since I hadn’t made bread yet this week, I put together this batch of savoury whole-wheat cheddar and sage biscuits to go with the soup, and we ate the leftovers the next day for breakfast.

It’s an easy recipe, adapted from tea biscuits from a recipe book of my mom’s. You could probably make vegan substitutions such as chilled coconut oil for the butter, or soy cheese – my go-to expert is my friend Louise Spiteri at Vegan Footprints – but I used what I had on hand:

Preheat oven to 400F

Put 1 c (250ml) whole wheat flour, sifted with 1 T (15ml) baking powder in a large bowl. To this, cut in chilled butter until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. I used to use vegetable shortening but I would rather have an ingredient that is less-processed. When using butter, I generally use the salted kind but there is no additional salt in the recipe, except what occurs in the cheese.

Gently stir in 2T (30ml) chopped fresh sage or 2t (20ml) dried sage, plus 1/2c (125ml) grated sharp cheddar (or other hard, flavourful cheese as you like). Vegan cheese can be substituted.

Add 1/2c (125ml) almond milk and stir just until mixed. Drop onto cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden.

Makes 8 biscuits.

Our recipe used Canadian-milled flour from Rogers Foods, sage from our garden, and aged Ontario cheddar, purchased at St. Lawrence Market.

Sweet and Simple Fare

Delicious! Butternut Butternut Squash Currysquash curry. What I love about this dish is that it is super-simple, and very economical. It did require a little time, about an hour, but I was working from home. It could easily be prepared on a weekend and reheated…

It was a real use-it-up meal, taking advantage of odds and ends from other recipes.

First, I roasted the vegetables. In my case there was half a large butternut squash in the fridge – probably about a pound and a half, or 700g. I peeled it, seeded it, and cubed it into bite-sized cubes. I also cut up two carrots and two parsnips into similar-sized pieces. All of these went on a parchmented cookie-sheet in a 350C oven for about an hour.

At the 30-minute point, I started the rice and lentil mix. I had a mixed-rice blend from the bulk store, as well as some Puy lentils. I have to admit I didn’t measure – but probably about 1 cup or 250 ml in total. I wanted to use both up. I use a cooking method I learned years ago on television, from the great Indian and vegetarian expert, Madhur Jaffrey. Rinse rice, check for small stones, and then put in a pan with water that comes up as deep as the first knuckle of your thumb (about an inch). I put the lentils in just as if they were part of the rice. Bring to a boil, and when the water has reduced so it is just a small amount above the rice, cover, turn to low, and simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, start your curry. I have leftovers of both the rice-lentil mix and the roasted veg to cook something else today.

In a little olive oil, gently saute an onion and 3 or 4 sliced mushrooms. Add some of your roasted vegetables (1-2c or 250-500ml). Stir in 1/2c or 125ml of cooked white beans, and the same amount of vegetable broth. Season with 1T/15ml curry powder. You can make your own, but I didn’t on this occasion. Let this simmer until the rice is done, then top a serving of the rice mixture (3/4c or 190ml) and a ladle full of the curry. Top with a few green onions, some chopped cilantro, or even some chopped celery leaves.

 

Drink Your Veggies!


There are SO many opportunities to sneak in some extra veg – like this delicious smoothie. It features red cabbage (with some peaches, mangoes, strawberries and blueberries for good measure). I topped up the blender with almond milk, a few sunflower seeds, and some cinnamon, and we were all set.

A Regal Breakfast


Who could resist this gorgeous royal purple colour!?! And no, despite the coaster, no wine was involved. What you might not know, is that it packs a nutritional punch. For two, I blended:

2 c (500ml) chopped red cabbage

1 chopped carrot

1/3 c (80ml) raw cashews

1.5c (375ml) frozen strawberries

1t (5ml) pure vanilla extract

With enough unsweetened almond milk to fill the blender to the 4c (1L) mark.

Process until very smooth and creamy, and enjoy. I know I am, as I reflect on how grateful I am to have this special day with both my kids and their delightful partners.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

Pudding for breakfast!

Sometimes a sweet treat for breakfast hits the spot. This breakfast pudding, or smoothie bowl, in common parlance, is fast and delicious.

In a blender, combine two ripe bananas, a small avocado, 2 T (30 ml) good-quality cocoa, 1/2 c (125 ml) silken tofu, and 1/4 c (60 ml) unsweetened almond milk. Using ripe bananas gives lots of natural sweetness. 

Blend until smooth, and top with chopped walnuts and grated coconut. Pumpkin seeds would look and taste fabulous as well!

Serves two.

  

Possibly the world's easiest lunch…

  
Veggies with a light, fluffy hummus…

People always ask why our hummus tastes so good. It’s mainly from using home-cooked chickpeas, which have no salt. This lets the real flavour shine through, and also making it in the food processor gives a light and fluffy result.

We make a big batch of chickpeas and freeze, then pull out a container a few hours before we want to make this, or make some straight away. 

To cook the chickpeas:

Place dried chickpeas in a Dutch oven or casserole that is also stovetop safe. Why do extra dishes? They should fill no more than 1/3. Cover with 1-2″ water and soak overnight or all day while you are at work. How much water depends on how long the chickpeas have been hanging around, feeling parched.

Preheat oven to 250F

To cook, add more water to cover about an inch or the depth of the top segment of your thumb. Throw in a few peeled cloves of garlic, and a good shake of cumin. Bring to boil on top of the stove, cover, and put in the oven for 2-1/2 hours. 

Cool and use or freeze with their cooking liquid, or aquafaba.

To make the lunch: 

Buzz the zest of a lemon with  2 cloves garlic in a food processor. Add a couple of cups of chickpeas and liquid, the juice of the lemon, another good shake of cumin, and a tablespoon or so of tahini. Process until smooth and fluffy, adding a little water if necessary.

Enjoy!