Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili {Vegan} with slow cooker option

vegan chili

A smokey, hearty chili that lends itself to all kinds of vegetables. Feel free to replace the sweet potato with butternut squash, or add green pepper or zucchini. I like to top it with a grilled corn and cilantro salad or just slices of fresh avocado.

Having a good vegan chili in my arsenal is super important when I’m looking for something warm, bold and comforting. This recipe is a mix of a few recipes I’ve made over the years and what I default to when I have it in my mind to make chili. I like to pack it with at least two types of beans and a combination of vegetables, although I always favor something like sweet potato.

This can also be made in a slow cooker. See below for instructions.

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Sesame Chili Soba Noodles with Kale

soba2

I’ve been a dedicated – and admittedly uncool – brown-bagger for as many years as I’ve been working a full time job. More than just the limited food options nearby, I bring my lunch to eat healthy and stretch my paycheck.

This is the sort of dish that makes it easy to bring your lunch to work. Quick to make, packed with toasty sesame and warm chili flavors, and effortlessly vegan. It’s all about making meals play double duty – you know, cook once, eat twice.

I made this soba noodle dish after a Sunday shopping excursion when I returned home ravenous. I whacked it together in a few hasty minutes and gobbled it up even quicker.

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Roasted Red Pepper, Chili and Cashew Dip

A fun fact about me: I am a huge klutz. Like, textbook definition of clumsy, uncoordinated, and awkward. It’s kind of unfortunate.

I’m terrible at all sports, so I generally try to stay away from those.

Other things are not so easily avoided. I knock over full cups of liquid almost daily, I carelessly cut and burn myself while cooking (we need to keep a first aid kit in the kitchen), and I knock my shin into the bedpost pretty much every time I walk past it.

Family members sarcastically call me Grace.

I’ve tripped while jogging, resulting in serious cuts on my hands and knees. Which was pretty painful and embarrassing. I did that twice. The second time, I cut and scraped the exact. same. places. WHO DOES THAT?

Gauche. So gauche.

Something I cannot manage to screw up: this dip. Pantry staples + food processor = accomplishment without injury (thanks, largely in part, to the advanced safety features on my food processor.)

The sweet and smokey peppers, the crunchy sweetness of the cashews, and the salty Parmesan are tied together perfectly by the chili. You can control the spiciness with the amount of chili paste you use. A half a tablespoon is a good place to start. I used a whole tablespoon – which gives it a definite edge without overwhelming the whole operation.

Dip it, spread it, mix it. It’s excellent with eggs, roasted veggies, toast, avocado, rice or quinoa, on crackers or pitas, with chicken or fish…you get the idea.

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper and Cashew Dip
– 3-4 large whole roasted red peppers (or 1 cup of chopped roasted red peppers)
– 1/3 cup toasted, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
– 1 tablespoon chili paste
– 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
– sea salt, to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor and blitz until everything is finely chopped but not completely pureed. Adjust seasoning. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Notes:
Cashews: You could use dry roasted or raw cashews and toast them yourself.
To toast: place cashews in a dry pan over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, tossing frequently, until golden. Allow to cool before using.

Chili: Always a Good Time

Veggie-Packed Black Bean Chili

It’s been unseasonably rainy and cool in Sydney lately, save the beautiful weekend that just past. Since it’s expected to carry on like this for another month (I don’t think this has anything to do with Ground Hog’s Day, but I can’t be sure) – it’s best to just happily embrace it.

At least undesirable weather gives me an excuse to cook hearty meals that make staying inside a little more fun. And let’s face it: a big pot of chili is always a good time!

Don’t worry, I have a garnish that will make the meat lovers come around to this otherwise vegetarian chili. A generous sprinkling of crispy chorizo on top of this colorful chili will kick it into omnivore territory and add another layer of smokey flavor.

Good tortilla chips, avocado and a nice sharp cheddar are strongly encouraged as additional garnishes.

Veggie-Packed Black Bean Chili
(Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 large (5 small) cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium sized red pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium sized green pepper, roughly chopped
2 cups squash or pumpkin, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce
3 cups of cooked black beans
1 cup of corn kernels (canned or frozen and thawed works)
1 can (1 1/2 cups) of diced tomatoes
1 cup water
Salt
1 chorizo sausage, finely diced and browned in a pan until crispy (optional)
In a large pot with a lid, heat olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook for about 3-4 minutes until tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add peppers (both red and green) and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant, stirring often. Add squash and carrot, cook for another 2 minutes.
Add spices and stir to coat the onions, pepper, and pumpkin and cook for 1 minute. Pour black beans, corn, tomatoes, and water in the pot and stir to combine everything well and season with salt, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Cook covered for 30 minutes, stirring gently every five minutes or so. Test the squash, if tender then you’re good to go, although this does benefit for sitting covered and warm for an hour or so and then re-heating when ready to eat.
For meat-lovers chorizo garnish: place diced chorizo in a dry pan heated over a medium-high heat. Let cook until the oils are released and the chorizo is deep golden brown. Scatter over individual bowlfuls along with any other garnishes desired.
Notes:

  • Butternut squash is particularly good for holding its shape. For tips on pealing and dicing your squash, here’s a Food52 video.
  • If I have leftover roasted squash on hand, I’ll use that instead – cut it into 1-inch chunks and add to the pot in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • If I can’t find chipotle peppers in Adobo (like when I’m in Australia) I use 2 tablespoons of smokey BBQ sauce.

Broccolini Chickpea and Soba Salad

Do you want to take a second to talk about the fact that it’s almost Christmas? You probably know this, but I’ve been working hard trying to remember.

I’ve made a playlist comprised of Mariah Carey, Tchaikovsky (what? my childhood dream was to star in the Nutcracker. I was a ballet nerd.) and Bing Crosby. I’ve baked my first batch of red sprinkle-encrusted cheer and I’ve even made a couple of paper snowflakes in a rare crafty moment.

And yet, I have barely begun my shopping and am crossing my fingers that my holiday cards make it to the States in time. It’s time for me to get a move-on.

Here’s a noodle salad you can make ahead so you can grab a bowlful between wrapping presents, addressing cards and baking glorious holiday treats. It’s good for someone like me, whose blood sugar level needs to be kept in check if I am going to accomplish anything. The spicy garlic dressing is a nice reprieve from all the candy canes too.
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Peanut Chili Sauce

Now might be a good time to tell you that I am a peanut butter fiend. My cravings for peanut butter and the high frequency at which they occur are borderline abnormal. I’m a fiend – but I’d like to think of myself as a fiend with standards.

My peanut butter criteria:

  • The only ingredient should be peanuts. Or roasted peanuts.
  • Make that organic peanuts/roasted peanuts.
  • Nine times out of ten, it’s gotta be crunchy (although, my current jar is not).
  • It should be kept in the fridge.

Often I just eat it straight out of the jar on a spoon, standing in front of the refrigerator. But for more civilized dining, I’m pretty open to any and all combinations involving PB.

While I am biased, it doesn’t mean that this sauce can only be enjoyed by fellow peanut-loving freaks. Evidence: Mr. F is generally indifferent to nut butters, and he gave it a glowing review.

This peanut sauce is a perfect combination of salty and tangy with a little spice to it. It’s just dreamy.

Peanut Chili Sauce
– 3 tablespoons of all-natural peanut butter
– 1 tablespoon of lime juice
– 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
– a couple of drops of toasted sesame oil
– 2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon of red chili flakes
– 1/2 teaspoon of grated ginger (optional)
– 2 tablespoons of warm water

Combine all the ingredients and whisk together. If it’s too thick to pour, add a little more warm water.

I combined cooked soba noodles, steamed broccoli, asparagus and tofu with the peanut chili sauce. Made in less than 15 minutes, this is a gorgeous meal to serve up on the fly. Use whatever veggies and protein you’d like. I’m thinking this would be really nice with some grilled prawns and red capsicum too.

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And before you go…

On the kitchen playlist: David Bowie, Album: Hunky Dorey

This gave me a giggle: Thanksgiving Drinking Game

First music, then fine art. Loving the new kind of meal pairing: Feasting on Art

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