Basic Vegetarian Chili (with Butternut Squash!)

Happy Saturday!! The sun is shining, and it’s a balmy 16°F outside. My battle with my not-forksplit English muffin is over for the day, and I won! Seriously, you never appreciate the little things until you try and separate the two halves of a frozen English muffin that has not already been perforated.

I know I’ve been short on recipes lately, so last night I went Martha Stewart on purpose. I’ve been trying to eat healthier the past few days and I opened up her Meatless cookbook. I picked it up at Strand bookstore in NYC, but here’s a link to Amazon. Being a happy meat-eater, I don’t often look through this cookbook, but I’ve started to think about cleaning out my pantry as I get ready to move in the not-so-incredibly-distant-anymore future, and I thought chili would be a good way to help get rid of some of the last remaining cans of beans, back from before I realized you could buy dried beans in a bag. I think of anything, I’d feel like most of an idiot trying to schlepp cans of beans over the border when I go home. Or maybe the Costco-sized box of Honey Nut Cheerios that I thought would be a good investment two years ago, that I’m still trying to finish would feel lamer. Anyone out there have a recipe for stale Cheerios?

I think I’ve posted about it before, but here is the recipe I made last night. I added butternut squash for some color and sweetness, which came out really well. Here’s the chili, plus my own comments: Martha’s Versitile Vegetarian Chili (serves 6)

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano chile, ribs and seeds removed, chopped (I may have used 6 jalapeño peppers instead… in Montreal I haven’t found a vast chile/pepper variety. I don’t know if a poblano or jalapeño is hotter, it just made sense at the time.)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • coarse salt
  • 1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles (I left these out. See above where I added lots of jalapeño/poblano instead. Diced green chiles are relatively expensive where I am so I try to add the heat in other ways)
  • 1 tbsp + 1.5 tsp chili powder (I was generous. Heaping tablespoon and 1.5 teaspoon.)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (Again, I was on the heavy-handed side because I didn’t use chiles)
  • 3 cups cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I used dried, because that was what I had on hand.)
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed (I used a 28 ounce can)
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juice
  • Assorted toppings for serving
  1. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high. Add onion, poblano (or jalapeño), and garlic; season with salt. (I left the salt out, because canned beans tend to be salty, regardless of how many times I rinse them. Also, I probably should have added the butternut squash chunks at this point, but it didn’t occur to me until after step two.)
  2. Stir in green chilis, chili powder, and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, until spices are darkened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. (Add butternut squash chunks if you haven’t already.)
  3. Add beans, tomatoes and their juice, and 2 cups of water; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender and chili is thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. (Don’t add the full 2 cups. I don’t know what Martha is thinking here. I added half of a 28 ounce can of water, which is less than 2 cups, but was just enough to cover the vegetables and beans, and it still took forever to thicken, closer to an hour than half an hour. Which isn’t a big deal, since you can let it simmer on the stove and go do other things, but still. I was hungry and impatient.)
  4. Remove from the heat. Season with salt. Serve with suggested toppings. (Martha suggests toasted pepitas, toasted tortilla strips, yogurt, scallions, diced tomato, diced onion, chopped cilantro, grated cheese, lime wedges, corn kernals, and/or sliced avocado. I topped my bowl of chili with a few remaining cheese curds 🙂 )

This is my go-to chili recipe and I do like mixing it up and adding new things sometimes. Remember the Turkey Chili disaster? It was edible, but just didn’t seem right. I based that on this recipe. Sometimes I add ground beef. Last night I added the butternut squash. It’s fun to add new things and mix it up, but I’ve found that it’s best to remember to at least vaguely follow the recipe. The Turkey Chili happened because I got too confident and threw a bunch of ingredients in a pot. I’ve learned my lesson. I’ve got my chili. I’m a happy girl!

I also got to roast my butternut squash seeds, like I learned how to do here. This time they kind of smoldered in the oven and I shut down the operation before I became that girl who set off the fire alarm. I wanted roasted squash seeds, but not enough to risk being that girl.

Also, I can’t say how I know this, but if you don’t have diced tomatoes, and you choose to smush the whole tomatoes with your hands, it’s better to poke a hole in the tomato first and then slowly squeeze. If you take the entire tomato and squish it like a ball of play-doh, you just might end up with tomato juice all over your stove. And counter. And pants. Not that I would do that or anything…

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6 thoughts on “Basic Vegetarian Chili (with Butternut Squash!)

  1. I love the idea of adding squash — I am definitely going to have to try that sometime. My veggie chili recipe is fairly similar, except that I saute diced celery and diced bell peppers with the onions and garlic to start and I use a can of kidney beans, a can of pinto beans, and a can of black beans.

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