Confession: I used to hate chili. I really can’t say why, probably it had something to do with the tomatoes. I used to be an avid tomato-hater. Except ketchup and pizza sauce. So I guess you could more accurately say that I used to be a tomato-hater and a hypocrite.
And even though I haven’t been a chili-hater for a few years now, I was still a litter nervous when I made this dish and served it to my family. I think chili, although a fairly simple dish, is still really hit or miss. A number of things can go wrong. For example: it can be too spicy, not spicy enough, too many big chunks of onion or other vegetable, too pureed so it’s too soupy, the beans can be cold while the other veggies are bordering on over-cooked…
… or it can just plain suck.
I was determined to make chili that at the very least, didn’t suck. And I am happy to say that not only did I succeed, I managed (miraculously, really) to make the best vegetarian chili I have ever had.
The secret is curry. Just a tiny bit of curry adds a whole different layer of sweet and spicy flavor. Trust me.
Needed: 3-4 tablespoon olive oil, 1 yellow onion, 2 jalapeno peppers, 1 red bell pepper, 1 small yellow squash, 2 cans of black beans, 1 can of pinto beans, 1 can of kidney beans, 1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, salt and pepper to taste.
I suggest chopping all vegetables first. So go ahead and chop up those peppers, squash and onion. Don’t forget to remove the seeds and inner veins from the jalapeno peppers.
Now in a deep pot or dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium/high heat. Saute the onion, peppers and squash until onions are nearly translucent (6-8 minutes). Dump in the crushed tomatoes (with their juices). Add the spices and white wine vinegar. Drain all the beans of the liquid they are canned in and then toss them in too. Turn the heat down to medium/low and cook for 12-15 minutes until everything is bubbly and hot, add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with shredded cheese (I had pepper jack) or sour cream. And be sure to serve with bread or (if you’re a true foodie) fritos.