Food: Variations On Vegetarian Chili

Here are several recipes for vegetarian chili.

Nothing is better on a cold, winter evening than a hot, steaming bowl of chili. While many people believe that nothing is better than Texas chili brimming with ground beef or pork, vegetarians have found many ways to make chili that can rival the best that the meat eaters have to offer.

Starting with the simplest ingredients, this chili can be put together in moments, using only canned goods from your shelf.

1 large can diced tomatoes

2 cans red kidney or chili beans

4 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon ground red pepper (or to taste)

Mix it all together in a large pot, and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn it down, and let it simmer for at least one half hour. The longer this simmers, the better it becomes.

The next recipe is more elaborate, yet once you have all the ingredients together, it is quick to cook. It is perfect for a small gathering and will serve 6 - 8 people.

Three Bean Chili

1 each, red, orange and yellow bell pepper

2 bulbs of fennel

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon coriander seed

1 tablespoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons chili powder

3 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 large can diced)

1 1/2 cups green beans (cut)

1 3/4 cups cooked kidney beans

1 3/4 cups black beans (cooked)

1 3/4 cups white beans (cooked)

water or tomato juice as needed

1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro

shredded cheese if desired.

Seed and cut the bell peppers into 1/2-inch cubes. Remove the top and core of the fennel bulbs, and chop them finely.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the cayenne, cumin, and coriander and sauté until the seasoning darkens slightly. Add the bell peppers, oregano, chili powder and fennel and, cook for five minutes. Stir in the beans and the tomatoes, and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer at least one half hour. Add additional water or tomato juice if the mix becomes too thick. Add the cilantro, and serve it with salt and pepper. Serve this with shredded cheese if desired.

Tempeh and tofu add a meaty texture to chili, so for those who insist on meat in their chili, the following recipes should work.

Tempeh Chili

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 1/2 cups cubed tempeh (1/2-inch cubes)

2 tomatoes, chopped (or a 12-ounce can of diced)

1 bay leaf

crushed red pepper to taste

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Heat the oil in a large pan and stir in the onion and green pepper. Sauté until it is soft. Stir in the remaining ingredients, mix well and cover. Simmer for ten to twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. This makes 4 servings.

Chili Con Tofu

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped (any color)

2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 1/2 cups firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 cups tomatoes, canned or fresh

1 cup corn, frozen, canned or fresh

1 teaspoon oregano

2 cups cooked pinto or kidney beans, drained

Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the oil until the vegetables are tender. Add the chili powder, cumin and tofu, and soy sauce. Stir together. Add the tomatoes, corn and oregano and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the beans, and cook ten minutes longer or until it is heated through. This serves 6.

Textured vegetable protein, available at health food stores, can be used in place of meat in any chili recipe you have on hand. It is a wonderful way of getting your friends to eat vegetarian chili because most cannot tell the difference.

All of these recipes can be doubled or tripled to serve large crowds, so they are perfect for get-togethers and tailgate parties.

© High Speed Ventures 2011