Black bean chili
I haven’t made chili in ages, and typically don’t make warm things unless it’s cold out, but when it was raining non-stop a few weeks ago I got a sudden urge to make this black bean chili. It looked super healthy and I couldn’t wait to try it out. Imagine my utter dismay when I got to the grocery store to discover, among other things, Australia does NOT STOCK BLACK BEANS. Not dry ones, not ones in a can. Apparently, the Australian population just doesn’t have a taste for them. WTF? Random things like this really annoy me about living here sometimes (other examples: frozen cranberries, canned pumpkin, lack of easily available and affordable quinoa/bulgur).
But I was not to be deterred from my quest – I actually went to a Mexican chain at one of the food courts here to buy a side of cooked black beans. And it was worth it, because this chili is delicious. Since I didn’t have very many black beans, I also used a whole can of chickpeas, since they are pretty much my favourite bean. I also forgot tomato paste so mine was a bit more soupy, but it was still delicious. Even better, this recipe is absolutely great to freeze, so I made a big batch, froze most of it, and had meals immediately ready for me when I flew into Sydney on a red-eye from Bangkok the following Monday…(food stories from that trip to come soon!)
Black bean chili (adapted from Have Recipes Will Cook)
1 medium onion, chopped, small dice
1 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped, small dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, chopped, small dice
1 pound zucchini, chopped, medium dice
1 cup frozen or fresh corn, defrosted if frozen
2 cups vegetable broth – I didn’t have this so just used water, and I didn’t use very much since I didn’t have tomato paste
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
dash of freshly ground black pepper
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste – good to use but you can go without it
2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed – or in my case, use 1 can of chickpeas or your other favourite bean and also some black beans
1 bunch cilantro, chopped – optional
Juice from one lime
Spray a big pot with non stick spray, turn onto medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook for about 4 to 7 minutes, adding a bit of water to make sure they don’t stick. (Alternatively you can cook it in about a tablespoon of oil, but I prefer to go au naturel here.) Add the bell pepper, saute for another minute, and then add all the spices. By the way, if you don’t have all of the spices, that’s totally fine – just pick and choose. I didn’t add as much chili powder as the original recipe called for, and it’s fine if you omit one or two of the spices – you just want to make sure it is flavourful enough, but to each her own taste! Mix in the zucchini and corn, and then add the vegetable broth or some water (I basically just was heavy handed on the spices and used water and the juice from the tomatoes in the can) until the veggies are mostly submerged.
Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, covered, until the veggies are tender. Taste frequently to make sure they are to your liking. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans / other beans and cilantro if using. Cover and cook until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. If you are using cooked black beans, don’t mix them in until the end. Mix in the lime juice. Add more salt and pepper to taste if needed, and serve.
This is a fantastic chili and you really can modify it depending on whatever you want to be eating that day. It’s so easy to customise it based on the veggies in your fridge or the bean contents of your cupboard (ok maybe not everyone has a variety of cans of beans in their pantry). This is simple enough for lunch, but you could dress it up by serving it over baked sweet potatoes for a dinner with friends, perhaps with a side of bread or vegetables. And I highly recommend making a big batch and freezing it for those times when you’ve just had an epic vacation and really need some detox food afterwards…(not that I know anything about that)