Monday, June 13, 2011

Tangy Vegan Chili

And just when I thought I couldn't be surprised by chili!  This is a recipe I have actually been meaning to post since a few months ago, when I first had it at a party hosted by my friends Matt and Mimi (click on their names to check out their fabulous blogs). It was an April Fool's party, and there was talk of chili, so I came with a batch of my banana cornbread muffins in tow, still warm from the oven.  Before I'd even climbed all of the stairs, I could smell the chili wafting down to me.  And if it smelled good, it tasted even better.

Matt made the chili, but says the recipe comes from his mom, Fonda Lowe.  It's a forgiving recipe, and most of the spices can be added to your own taste.  What you see below is an adaptation of what Matt did, which was based largely on the availability of ingredients in my kitchen when I made it.  It is quick and easy to throw together.  You can use any beans you want - black, white, pinto, chili.  Go to town!  The taste offers a slight departure, but one you'll be glad you took - trust me.  It's a chili that might not taste exactly like the chili you're used to.  That's because of a few less traditional - but brilliant - additional ingredients.  This chili is smoky and sweet, with a little kick and tang.

The other wonderful thing about this chili for me was that it introduced me to an ingredient I had never tried before: textured vegetable protein (Bob's Red Mill makes a gluten-free one!  I haven't checked any other brands.).  And therein lies the secret to the "meatiness" of this vegan chili.  TVP is super easy to use and expands into hearty little chunks that add an air of dense protein to the chili. 

It's seriously, seriously good.  Just try making it and not practically licking the pot clean.

Tangy Vegan Chili

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped finely
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 large or 2 small green peppers, diced
2 tbsp. tomato paste + 1 1/2 cups water OR 1 can diced tomatoes (with the juice) + water to cover all ingredients
1 cup Bob's Red Mill Textured Vegetable Protein
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 - 2 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 bottle Trader Joe's Barbecue Sauce
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed well
2 - 4 tsp. liquid smoke (optional, but highly recommended) (Colgin is gluten-free!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the olive oil and onion in a pot and cook over medium heat for about 4 - 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onion is translucent.  Add the green pepper, tomato paste, water, textured vegetable protein, spices, barbecue sauce, black beans, and liquid smoke and stir well.  Bring to a low boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 - 30 minutes, or longer.  Basically, you should simmer it until you are happy with the way it tastes.  Add more water as needed if you're going to simmer it for a longer period of time.  It's delicious on its own or served with corn bread.

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