This kind of day always makes me think of chili. Deeply rich, warm and comforting - it's the perfect dish to chase away the grey clouds and the looming feeling that winter isn't too far away. I've never been one for traditional chili - that being ground beef, beans and sauce. My chili always looks like a mosaic, with bright spots of any and every vegetable I can find dotting the rich, deep red chili sauce background. Today's was no different. Well okay, it was a little different. My signature chili always included a combination of ground beef and ground pork for Husband. But we're not eating that way now. So I needed a way to make my chili earthy, meaty and hearty without adding any meat.
Fortunately, Husband stumbled across a great blog full of vegan recipes. blog.fatfreevegan.com is a wealth of healthy, whole food vegan recipes that are rich, satisfying and meat-free. Yesterday I made their spicy curried cauliflower and sweet potato soup (I'll be blogging that one later this week). Today he showed me a recipe for chili stuffed peppers - and as soon as I read it, I knew I had to try it. It's a black-bean chili...but the base of the dish is portobello mushroom - which lent a deep, rich earthy "meaty' flavour to it - and it's damn near the best chili we've ever eaten. Half of it was gone before we'd even stuffed the peppers. It's that kind of dish - perfect on it's own, stuffed in a pepper or (as I'm about to indulge) on a plate of nachos. Most importantly, it proved to us that chili can be meatless and delicious - and that a bowl of food can warm not only your belly, but your heart.
p.s. I made these 'vegan' but for those who love dairy, go ahead and sprinkle some shredded monterey jack or cheddar cheese on top before you bake it.
Black Bean Chili Stuffed Peppers (adapted from www.blog.fatfreevegan.com)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large portobello mushroom, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced (you can adjust this based on your taste or heat threshold)
1 16 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans)
1/2 cup corn kernels - fresh, frozen or canned
1 15 oz can tomatoes, diced (fire roasted work best but if you don't have them onhand, any good canned tomato will do)
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp chili powder (again, adjust up or down according to your taste)
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 tbsp vegetable broth
4 red bell peppers
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Heat a large non-stick pan on medium high heat and add vegetable broth and onions. Cook, stirring often until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and diced jalapeno peppers and cook until mushroom soften and turn a deep, rich brown, about 3-4 minutes depending on how finely the mushrooms are diced.
2. Add black beans, corn, tomatoes and seasonings. cook, stirring often until most of the tomato liquid cooks out.
3. While the chili is cooking, prepare the peppers by cutting the tops off and removing the seeds and membranes. Place them in a square glass baking dish. Note: if your peppers won't stand up, slice a very small piece off the bottom to "even them out' and help them stand. Fill each pepper with the chili mixture and bake until peppers are tender; about 30-40 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with green onions and serve.