After a lovely, relaxing 4th of July weekend spent fishing, reading, and sleeping at the cabin of some dear family friends, Dave and I came home happy and calm… and in dire need of a s’mores and hot dog detox. It was a vegemergency. While running through the grocery store on a typical post-holiday “we have no food in the house” weekday evening, I racked my brain for a vegan meal that would take little prep work and would allow me to get a few things done while it cooked. An enticing Fit Foodie Finds recipe I’d Pinned recently popped in my mind and thought I’d give it a whirl.
I’M SO GLAD I DID.
This chili hit the spot, despite the 95-degree St. Louis summer upon us. Use any veggies you have lying around for your version; edit and add to use what’s in your pantry. Whatever you toss in will add bright, veggie goodness. We had a beautiful home-grown zucchini my in-laws gave us over the weekend (thank you!) and decided to add it to the mix; carrots, broccoli, potatoes, different beans, different peppers, or more or less of the ingredients listed below would all work well. I do recommend keeping the secret ingredient, though…
SECRET INGREDIENT BLACK BEAN & QUINOA CHILI
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 poblano pepper, diced
- 1 large zucchini, chopped into large dice
- 3+ cloves garlic, minced
- 5 cups water + 3 tsp vegetable base, or 3 cups vegetable stock + 2 cups water
- 3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 can yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
- juice of one lime
- 3 tbsp good-quality chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- avocado, green onion, sour cream (obviously not vegan), hot sauce for serving
The secret ingredient is…. a cinnamon stick!! BOOM! Vegan chili mic drop.
OMIGOSHYOUGUYS. The chili was so very easy to throw together. There are just three little steps: chop veggies, sauté veggies, simmer chili. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven. Add the onion, green pepper, zucchini, and poblano pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent- if you want to. You could very easily dump all ingredients into the pot and crank up the heat. If you’re sautéing, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add all other ingredients (gah! so easy!). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to med-low and cover, simmering for 50 minutes. Put chili in face.
The genius addition of a cinnamon stick gives this chili a smoky, sweet quality that’s hard to pinpoint and plays well with the other spices and veggies. The cinnamon flavor isn’t overwhelming and having a secret ingredient to add makes this dish even more special.
Now- for the cauliflower rice, which you can whip up while the chili is simmering. I adapted this recipe from BeckyAmyLew, my old friend Becky Lewis’ paleo-friendly recipe and running blog. Cute site name, huh? Becky is a talented and creative home cook with international influences and lots to share. She describes herself as an:
“amateur Foodie and social media enthusiast living in the middle of America, USA. An expert in nothing. Simply aspires to inspire people through the gift of sharing.”
Check her out, especially if you’re looking for clever paleo recipes. In her cauliflower “rice” post, Taiwan-born Becky describes the globally important grain as a favorite and as what she misses most in her no-grain paleo diet; I completely relate and was drawn to this recipe instantly, as my Dominican bones also pine for white rice with each meal (damn healthy choices, depriving me of diabetes and the joy in life…). Rice is such a love of mine, my “dying wish” meal is my aunt’s habichuelas con arroz blanco, Dominican beans and rice. Becky’s cauliflower substitute was so satisfying, I just may update that wish.
- 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- Seasonings to your taste, optional (I used Goya Adobo)
In a blender or food processor, pulse the cauliflower in batches. You’re looking for a rice-like shape and size, small but not ground into meal. This is a surprisingly easy consistency to achieve. Just pulse, pulse, pulse and keep an eye on it as you go.
Set the cauliflower aside and sauté the diced onion in the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium until the onion is translucent. Add the cauliflower and salt and pepper to taste, stirring well to combine. Cover the mix and let steam for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently and checking often.
There you have it! Cauliflower “rice!” Pairs perfectly with chili, stir-fries, and other saucy foods. What other grain alternatives have you tried?