Those of you who have been reading Simply Recipes for a while probably sense (rightly) that my father is a committed carnivore. Thus you may appreciate that dad, spending an afternoon making this vegetarian chili with vegetables that he had bought at the farmers market that morning, would only put so much care into a meat-free chili, his dinner, if that chili were darn good. This vegetarian chili is that good. It’s excellent. Spicy, flavorful, delicious. Of course my mother did have to convince dad that no, we didn’t need steak in addition to the chili, the beans were full of protein. And no, neither did we need potatoes. We served the chili with French bread.
The level of spiciness in this vegetarian chili will depend on how much chili powder, and how many jalapeños you put in the chili. If you like things on the mild side, start with the smaller amounts of both, and add to taste.
- 1 1-pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
- Olive oil
- 2 yellow onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium zucchini, chopped
- 2 large red bell peppers, cored, seeded, diced
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, finely minced (Taste and check the heat of the jalapeños. If very hot only use one, if mildly hot, use two. Wash hands with soap and water after handling. Do not rub eyes.)
- 1 28-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped, including liquid (or 2 pounds fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped)
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1-2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh chopped oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 1/2 cup cooked white beans (1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
- 1 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans (1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
- Zest of one lemon
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro (can sub parsley if you have an aversion to cilantro)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Scatter eggplant cubes in a shallow roasting pan and slather with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring once during the cooking. Remove from the oven and set aside.
2 In a large (5-6 quart) thick-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute more. Add the red bell peppers, zucchini, and jalapeño chili peppers. Cook for about 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 Add the tomatoes to the pot along with any liquid that may have been in the can (if using canned). Add oregano, cumin, and fennel seeds. Add chili powder to desired heat. Stir in the eggplant cubes (carefully as to not break them up), and simmer for 20 minutes over low heat.
4 Add the white beans and kidney beans, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and chopped cilantro. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions.