Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hearty Chili with Lime Crema

There was a time in my life when all I wanted every single day was the vegetarian chili at Mad Hatter's. Served in a huge bowl with a ginormous slice of house baked ciabatta on the side, this monster was topped with slices of fresh avocado, a lime cilantro sour cream, and lots of shredded cheese. But really, the toppings were the star here. Better known for its other specialties, the chili itself at Mad Hatter's was a bit... bland.

Though I still crave that warm comforting bowl of normalcy, my budget no longer craves it, and my body no longer wants the bloat and crack-habit-like cravings that come with cheese consumption for me. Holy Schnizzle. I can't believe what I have just done. Now, I have made my fair share of chili beans. In fact, every year I host a chili cook off at work because I just can't get enough. I come by it honest, since growing up it was one of our favorite meals. My mom is one heck of a comfort food cook. I don't think there is much that is more comforting than her french toast, her spaghetti sauce, or her chili. But when it comes to veggie chili, there is always something a little lackluster about it. My last couple batches were filling, satisfying and just okay. Tonight something incredible happened. I found a secret ingredient. I don't care who you are- even Ron Burgundy or Ron Swanson would love this meatless chili. I created a monster.
Trust me on this one and give this one a go.

I'm obviously all about the toppings.
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but most of them are pantry staples.

 Chili Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 can dark red kidney beans
1/2 can black beans
4 or 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small can green chilies
1/2 package meatless crumbles (or whole if you like it meaty)
1 15 oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1/8 cup chili powder
2 Tbsp cumin
1 1/2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup organic ketchup
3 good dashes hot sauce

Lime Crema
 Juice of one lime
1/3 cup Tofutti Sour Supreme, or organic sour cream
1 small handful fresh cilantro

Toppings (Optional, but why wouldn't you)
Chopped fresh green onion or sweet onion
Fresh avocado slices or guacamole
Shredded organic cheese or vegan cheese
Diced tomatoes

In a heavy bottomed pot on medium heat, saute chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil until slightly translucent.  Add in meat crumbles and continue to cook for a few minutes.  Add in chili powder and cumin.  If you have homemade chili powder, please do use that.  Continue to stir a few minutes and add in the canned green chilies.  It should look pretty messy right now.  Like this:

I didn't have any tomato paste, so I added in ketchup at this point.  I actually really loved the sweetness it added to the smoky combo at this juncture.  Then I dumped in one of my secret weapons, the can of fire roasted organic tomatoes I picked up last week.  I don't use these often because they are more expensive, but in a smoky and flavorful dish like this it was totally worth it.  Drain and rinse your beans and add them to the mixture.  I used only a half can of black beans because I used the other half at lunch for a burrito.  Add your cocoa powder.  It won't make your beans taste chocolaty, I promise.  It just plays off the chili powder to add more depth of flavor, which is what you want in chili.

Enter the next secret ingredient and the odd one: tamari.  Tamari is just sesame seeds ground up into a tasty paste.  I never cooked with it until this past month, and I'm amazed at the incredible flavor it can impart to so many dishes.  When I opened the fridge to put the ketchup back, the tamari caught my eye.  Would it's earthy flavor and rich texture beef up this beefless mixture?  It was a dangerous thought, but I live on the edge so I added in a tablespoon.  I tasted it... HARK!  One more tablespoon... SWEET LITTLE OLD LADY!  I don't think I'll ever go back to making veggie chili without it.

Add hot sauce to taste, and let this simmer while you make your lime crema or until you're ready to eat.

To make the crema, simply combine the lime juice, cilantro and sour cream (or Tofutti) in a small blender (I used my Magic Bullet that I adore) until cilantro is roughly chopped and all ingredients are incorporated.  Use as a condiment to top your chili. I could only wait about a half hour to let it simmer and dug in after piling the toppings on high.  Check out this meaty texture!

I can't wait to eat it for lunch tomorrow in a burrito!  Leftover chili is even better the day after.  Do you ever get in a lunch rut?  Is it weird that I liked to eat literally the same exact thing every single day for...ahem... a year??

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jojo said...

Love the fresh slices of avocados. Will have to try this recipe!

Melody Ann said...

I can't get enough avocado lately! Thanks for reading, JoJo!

schlombie said...

oh boy! i love leftover lunch...

Melody Ann said...

You and me both, schlombie; you and me both.

Blink said...

Thanks for the wonderful compliments on my comfort foods! It is I who stand amazed at all the foods you prepare...true Southern Comfort!

Blink said...

Also, that is not my tag on the corner of my comment. Somehow your Dad and I have crossed LINKS!

Melody Ann said...

Ha ha, Duly noted Mom. I didn't think the skull and crossbones was really your style!