This isn’t a vegan chili recipe. This is a way of life. Chili is one of the easiest and most satisfying vegan dishes to make and here are five tips on how you can make yours stand high above the rest!
You don’t have to stick to kidney beans. The more the merrier! Some of my favorites are black beans, chickpeas*, lentils, great northern, and pinto beans. Add all of them together to make the heartiest chili your omnivorous loved ones ever experienced. Tip: You can stock up on dried beans for super cheap at your local grocery store or food co-op to make this very cost-effective.
*Did you know Cicero’s (the famous Roman rhetorician) name means chickpea in Latin?
Adding beer to your chili as it’s cooking unlocks flavors you didn’t know existed and gives an additional depth to the chili flavor overall. I love to use darker beers or ales, but depending on your preference you may choose a pilsner or wheat beer. If you don’t care for beer, vegetable broth is delicious too! I like Better Than Bouillon’s No Chicken base.
The list of delicious veggies is endless. I don’t think it’s possible for there to be too much of a good thing in this case. Some of the best chili add-ins include: sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, corn, peas, onion, celery, carrots, bell peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes (yum!), yucca, canned pumpkin, and butternut squash.
Q: What do vegan zombies eat? A: GRAAAAAAINS! Add a grain to your chili to make it an entire meal in one! Barley is a crowd-pleaser, but I also love brown rice, whole wheat couscous, and quinoa.
I did not fathom the vastness of the chili pepper sphere until recently and I am so glad that I have finally seen the light. If you just want to sample a few types of chili powder, go to your local grocer or food co-op and pick up small quantities from the bulk section like we did! Try smoked paprika to give your chili a distinctive flavor. Other add-ins you may want to try are cocoa powder, oregano, sage, bay leaf, curry powder, cumin, garlic powder, and turmeric. The tender of tongue can omit the spicier chili powders, but where’s the fun in that?
Bonus tip: use a slow-cooker if you want to make your chili experience as easy as possible, but a slow-cooker is by no means a requirement for great chili! When you get all your ingredients (#1-5) together, just make sure to saute the chopped onions and root veggies in oil before you add the liquids and the beans. Bring to boil, then simmer for as long as you dare. If you’re feeling fancy, slice some avocados and chop up some cilantro for garnish. In the mean time, watch some PD-friendly shows or do a little knitting–a perfect way to settle in for a late fall evening!
Also by Samantha: Vegan Thanksgiving – Adopt a Turkey
Photo: Mikkahoo via Flickr; Samantha Lester