Crowd-Pleasing Chili for All
When a friend asked me to make a vegetarian chili for her to take on a girl’s weekend, I thought, what a brilliant choice, and I knew I had the perfect recipe.
In our day and age, with the growing number of dietary restrictions and allergies, it can be difficult to feed a group. I recently read an article about how college dining halls are trying to accommodate their student bodies by providing gluten-free stations, allergen-free stations, and so forth. Dining halls have come a long way from the limp lettuce salad bar stations with processed salad dressings of my day.
The same struggles to accommodate everyone, also happen on a micro level in our own kitchens when cooking for our families. Twenty-five years ago, I listened to my friends lament the feeling like they were short-order cooks because their kids did not all like the same things. Therefore, they would make two, sometimes three, different dishes, which made me tired just thinking about cleaning all that up!
However, today, the need to make two or three different dishes has become a necessity with what feels like a drastic increase in food allergies and restrictions. From gluten to dairy and do not get me started on nuts, these poor kids must navigate a land mine of choices every day. Then add in the socially conscious decisions to reduce our meat consumption, buy only organic, seasonal, or local produce, and you can easily get overwhelmed.
Whether you are continuously on the hunt for low-allergen recipe options or not, this bean chili is worth a spot in your recipe box. It is meat-, nut-, gluten-, soy-, and dairy-free (hold the cheese and sour cream toppings). It can be made with all organic ingredients, except maybe the canned chilis, and is full of protein which the kids need after a long day at school or big practice on the field. I like to double the recipe and put some in the freezer for those nights when I am too lazy to cook.
Even though I usually associate chili with cooler temperatures and cozy comfort food, this recipe works just as well in summer as in winter. Since there is no meat, and the fat comes from the olive oil and your toppings, you do not feel heavy after a big bowl and the fresh avocado and cilantro give it a summery vibe.
Along with the chili, I sent my friend on her girls’ trip with fresh corn muffins and a nice green salad with lemon vinaigrette to round out the meal.
2 T. olive oil
2 Spanish onions, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2-3 jalapeños, tiny dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small bunch parsley, chopped
1 4-oz. can green chilis
1 15-oz. can Northern white beans,
drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 t. Kosher salt
1½ t. cumin
1 t. oregano
2 T. chili powder
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Cheddar cheese, shredded
Red onion, small dice or thinly sliced
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil. Add red, green and jalapeño peppers, onion, garlic, and parsley, and sauté until onions are translucent.
Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 1-2 hours. Season to taste.
Serve with your favorite toppings.