After a week of extravagantly eating my way through Philadelphia and New York City, I really didn’t think I would want another bite of food when I finally returned home from my fabulously indulgent culinary adventure.
But I also missed my kitchen and that comforting feeling of whipping up my own delicious (and healthy) home-cooked meals. So after stocking up on a ton of fruit and veg for my week back to reality, I made a quick and easy veggie chili that I plan to eat over the next few days.
My favorite ingredient to add to chili lately is quinoa. Quinoa bulks up a veggie chili nicely, provides great texture, and adds a healthy and filling complete protein to the dish.
I was out of chili powder, but I had a few spice ingredients on hand to mix up my own basic (but tasty) chili powder blend. To make it a tea foodie dish, I experimented by grinding my favorite smoky Lapsang Souchong tea leaves and mixing them in to the chili powder blend. The ground tea added a nice, subtle smoked flavor to the chili seasoning.
You can accent the smokiness even further by using canned, fire-roasted tomatoes for your chili base. And if you throw in a handful of semisweet chocolate bits at the end, you’ll get a hint of malty sweetness that is slightly reminiscent of a mole sauce.
This dish is likely to become a new staple in the fall/winter recipe rotation at our house.
Happy cooking and sipping!
Smoky Quinoa Veggie Chili
(Adapted from the Vegetable and Bean Chili recipe on Epicurious.com)
Makes about 6 servings
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped small
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, ground
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (de-seeding optional)
2 small green (or red) bell peppers, cut into ½-inch pieces
4 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into ½-inch pieces
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes (preferably the fire-roasted variety)
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
2 (15-ounce) cans of your favorite beans, rinsed (I used 1 can kidney beans and 1 can black-eyed peas)
2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1. Heat the oil in your favorite chili pot. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté over medium-low heat, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the chili powder seasoning by mixing the ground Lapsang Souchong tea leaves with the cumin, paprika, oregano, and cayenne in a small bowl, and set aside. (Note: If you already have a prepared chili powder you like to use, simply mix the ground tea with 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite chili powder in this step.)
3. Add the jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, and carrots to the sautéed onions, and cook until the vegetables soften slightly, about 5 minutes. (Note: De-seed the jalapeño if you want less heat; leave the seeds in if you want a little more kick.)
4. Add the tea-chili powder seasoning and salt to the vegetables, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes.
5. One at a time, stir in the zucchini, tomatoes, quinoa, and broth (or water). Bring the mixture to a low simmer, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.
6. Stir in the beans and chocolate, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.
- This chili freezes well and will keep in the fridge for several days. The beans and quinoa will soak up the liquid, so just add a little water or broth to your bowl when you reheat the chili so you can thin it out a bit.
- You can use any beans here you like, really. I love using a mix of beans; some of my favorites to use in chili are pinto, black, garbanzo and adzuki.
- Experiment with different veggies, too. Pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips or celery root would all be nice seasonal ways to get variety in the dish and make it very hearty.
- Throw in a couple of freshly roasted Poblano or Anaheim chiles for another layer of smoky spiciness.