It probably would not win a chili cook-off, but this recipe is one of our family favorites. It is comfort food to us, a favorite cold weather dish. Some of us are sensitive to spicy things, so I usually keep a dish of hot peppers or salsa on the side to mix into my portion.
Karen's Vegetarian Chili
Olive oil - 2-3 tsp
1 onion - chopped
1 small or medium zuchinni - chopped
1 bell pepper (any color) chopped
1/2 - 1 cup fresh, canned or frozen corn
1 can of tomatoes with jalapeno peppers or 1-2 cups chopped tomatoes and chopped jalapeno pepper
3 cans of beans, rinsed and drained (Kidney, Pinto - or a combination of both- or just black beans)
chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt & pepper to taste
Water - about 1 cup
optional additions: Cashews, or Morningstar Farms "crumbles" or crumbles sausage patties
Grated cheddar cheese for topping
Heat the oil. Add the onion and cook a few minutes. Then add the zuchinni and cook 3-5 minutes more, then the peppers for another 3 minutes. Then, add everything else (except the grated cheese) to the pot, cover, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cook over medium for 30-60 minutes (depending on how much time you have - the longer you cook it the more the flavors blend - but you can do a quick version in as little as 20 minutes). I serve this over brown rice, or cous cous, or crushed tortilla chips - or all by itself. It is even better the next day and leftovers can also top a baked potato or be made into another family all-time favorite - Chili-Mac (see below). On this particular day, I used chopped green pepper and corn from the freezer (from the CSA share - frozen in the summer), the rest of the leftover chopped tomatoes from the Thanksgiving soup, and a hot pepper (I have no idea what kind at this point) from the hot pepper in vinegar jar in the refrigerator (I learned about the hot peppers in vinegar at a food preservation class I took with Leda Meredith (http://ledameredith.net/wordpress/) and decided to try it out when my CSA share included 6-8 hot peppers of various varieties for two weeks in a row - we just don't eat that much spicy food around here and I hated to see them go to waste). The instructions were to cut the peppers up into quarters or slices, pack them in a jar and cover with white vinegar. I did that in August, the pepper jar is in the refrigerator (with the Verdurette) and I have been using them whenever I need to add a little zip to something. They are holding their color nicely.
To make Chili-Mac:
Mix the leftover chili with an equal amount of pasta sauce (your favorite) in a microwave-proof dish or sauce pan and heat until it is hot but not boiling. Cook some spiral pasta al dente and mix with the chili-sauce mixture, in an oven or microwave-proof dish. Use just enough pasta so thing look very saucy - about equal parts pasta and chili-sauce mix. Cover the top with a healthy layer of grated cheddar cheese. Then cook on 70% power in the microwave for 10 minutes - or in the oven at 350F or so for about 35 minutes. the pasta will soak up the sauce and get fat and soft and yummy, tucked in between the tasty pasta will be beans and bits of vegetables, and the melted cheese sends it over the top. This has been one of our favorite quick suppers for about twenty years.