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Archive for May, 2010

A few months ago, I babysat for a friend’s kids, and while I was there, I ate some fantastic chili. It wasn’t like any other chili I had had before, but I was IN LOVE and immediately asked for the recipe. I made a few modifications to make it more Melody-friendly, and it has become just about my favorite damn thing to make for myself.

To qualify as a truly excellent recipe in my world, it must possess the following qualities:

– It must be inexpensive
– It must be vegetarian
– It must be healthy
– It must reheat well
– It can be modified to suit all of my picky food preferences
– It must be delicious

This recipe is ALL OF THOSE THINGS, plus, as an added bonus, it is vegan, too!

To give you an idea of how much I enjoy this, I will say that I ate it for dinner on Sunday and will be eating it for lunch every single day this week, and I actually feel excited about eating it. Like, I can’t wait until lunch. I wish I could eat it right now.

I actually went out and spent $20 on a coffee bean grinder so I could use it to grind spices, solely for this recipe. If you have any idea how reluctant I am to part with $20 under any circumstances, you should have a good idea of how great this is when you use freshly ground chilis and cumin.

My notes and modifications are in italics.

Pinto Bean Mole Chili

* 2 medium dried ancho chiles
* 1 dried chipotle chile
* 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (ground cumin also works fine)
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
* Rounded 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
* 2 medium onions, chopped (I use a generous shake of onion powder instead, because I have a weird problem with actual physical onions)
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 3 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and
cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I omit this, as I don’t care for zucchini or squash)
* 3/4 pound kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves
coarsely chopped (I use way more kale than this–usually three or four bunches, because I love it so)
* 1 teaspoon grated orange zest (I occasionally substitute lemon zest, but orange is better)
* 1/8 teaspoon sugar
* 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
* 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving
juice, and chopped (I can’t stand the texture of tomatoes, so I substitute a can of tomato sauce and vegetable stock)
* 1 1/4 cup water (more or less, depending on how thick you want the chili)
* 3 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans (I often substitute a pound of dry beans, soaked overnight and cooked ahead of time)

Possible accompaniments: rice; chopped cilantro; chopped scallions; sour cream. (I sometimes use rice, but really, this chili doesn’t need anything else!)

Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a dry heavy medium
skillet over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles, opened flat,
turning and pressing with tongs, until pliable and slightly changed in
color, about 30 seconds. Tear into small pieces.

Pulse cumin seeds and chiles in grinder until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in oregano, cinnamon, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

Cook onions in oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat,
stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring,
1 minute, then add chile mixture and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Stir
in zucchini and kale and cook, covered, 5 minutes.

Add zest, sugar, chocolate, tomatoes with their juice, and water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in beans and simmer 5 minutes.

And now I am hungry.

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