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Author Notes: Can we be done with winter now?!
After three ice or snow events in the last month, this North Carolinian is ready to see the end to the madness. One winter storm is rare enough, but three has tested my patience to the point that I'm considering buying a house in Ecuador and never even travelling north of the equator for the rest of my life. But enough of this rant.
What puts the warmth back in your bones after having to scrape ice off your car? Or even walk to your car? Chili!
Last summer I bought ten pounds of heirloom tomatoes from the farmers stand and fire roasted them, chopped some, pureed some, froze some whole, bagged them and froze them.Even though it feels like it will never happen, spring is indeed on the way, so I need to make all the room I can in my freezer for the coming season's haul. What better way of using up a couple of pounds of tomatoes than a gigantic pot of chilli? I can't think of one.
I don't buy ground meat from a supermarket -ever- and I plan on freezing most of this and taking the other half to work. I just started a new job, and don't get me wrong I love it, but I don't know my co-workers well enough to share my venison with them. I wonder if I'll ever know them that well. Thus, we arrive at meatless chili.
But, why stop there? Let's go totally vegan on this one, not tell anyone, and see if they even notice. This recipe calls for canned or frozen heirloom tomatoes, dried california chiles, tri-color quinoa, brown rice, garbanzo and black beans. As you can see, what it lacks in meat it makes up for in vegan protein and flavor. The chiles add a sweet, tangy spice, the heirloom tomatoes speak for themselves, and I've got a special trick for the beans that will pack them with flavor. —Michael
- 2 pounds Diced Heirloom Tomatoes
- 1 quart Heirloom Tomato Puree
- 4 tablespoons Heirloom Tomato Paste
- 3-4 Large California Chiles
- 9 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
- 1 Red Onion, finely minced
- 4 cups Vegetable Stock, homemade is preferred.
- 1/4 pound Dried Garbanzo Beans
- 1/4 pound Dried Black Beans
- 1 cup Brown Rice
- 1 cup Tri-Color Quinoa
- 2 cups Frozen Spinach
- 1 teaspoon Basil Puree (Dorot brand)
- 2-3 dashes Cumin
- 2-3 dashes Chili Powder
- 2-3 dashes Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 tablespoons Fresh Ground White Pepper
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 1 pinch Sugar
- 3 teaspoons Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
- Olive Oil
- The night before: In separate, sealed containers, soak the Black Beans, Garbanzo Beans, and Brown Rice covered in fresh, room temperature water with one teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar. I like to bring a large pot of water to a boil for a good ten or twenty minutes before I use it for any cooking. Whether this purifies the water or not is up for debate. I do it, especially for baking, but if you have a water purification system or think I'm just bonkers, then skip it and do as you normally would.
- Prep the chiles either the night before, or before you get started on cooking the next day: Don some gloves and prep the Dried Chiles. Cut the stem ends off, and knock out all the seeds, flay them open into two pieces and toast them for thirty seconds to a minute on a very hot dry skillet. Submerge them in hot (not boiling water) for thirty to forty minutes until they have softened up. I use a heavy duty Ziploc freezer bag for this and press out all the air so I don't have to dirty a mixing bowl and plate to hold them submerged. I'm warning you about the gloves. I don't want to hear any whining if you don't wear them. No one is that hard-core. After they've softened, remove them and give them a fine chop. Refrigerate or set aside to add to the chili.
- The Day Of: Cook those beans! Drain and rinse them very well. Cook them just how you normally would, separately, in broth (veggie, of course) or water. When done, combine and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- In a large skillet heat some garlic, and the basil puree with a little olive oil. Deglaze the pan with a quarter cup of vegetable broth and pour over the beans. Cover with warm water and allow to sit for at least an hour to marinate.
- Saute the onions until translucent at the bottom of your largest stock pot. Add garlic and white pepper. Cook for two to three minutes more until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add your other spices, the chili powder, the red pepper, the cumin, and anything else you're augmenting the recipe with. You could try oregano, sage, parsley, dried cilantro, the sky is the limit. Go nuts. Cook for just a minute more until everything is very fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, tomato puree, and tomato paste vegetable stock and a few cups of water. Keep in mind that you may have to add more veggie stock or water as you go depending on how much liquid the beans, quinoa and rice suck up. My advice: don't use your entire stash of veggie stock. Add the chiles, and let this come to a gentle boil.
- Drain the rice and quinoa and rinse it very well. Add the rice first. Cook for ten or twenty minutes.
- Add the quinoa. Cook for another twenty to thirty minutes. By now you may need to add more vegetable stock or water.
- Drain the beans, and reserve some of the marinating liquid. You may want to add a bit later to round out the flavors. Add the beans and the spinach to the pot and cover. Reduce heat to the lowest of low.
- Let this simmer for an hour or more, checking it regularly. Add stock or water as needed, depending on how thick you like your chili. Taste often, and adjust; but remember. Tomorrow, after this has had a chance to marry up in the fridge, it will taste infinitely better, so be judicious.