Fusion Vegetarian Chili
Since our last fusion recipe was so popular, we wanted to try a #veggie recipe that involved a different kind of fusion.
Chili is one of those dishes that some people feel very strictly about. Most Texans, for example, will tell you there’s no beans in real chili. There are many other places that do it differently though, and this dish is largely about celebrating that.
The base of this dish is mostly a Cincinnati style chili, which you’ll see in some of the atypical spices like cocoa powder (which it turns out is a great thickener), though we modified it slightly with a bourbon whiskey twist to bring out some new flavors. There are some other chili modifications here, too, such as the addition of cornstarch to further thicken the chili. It’s served over spaghetti in the typical Cincinnati fashion.
*Note: One issue we ran into in the tiny kitchen with this recipe is that with only one big pot, it’s difficult to make both the pasta and chili at the same time. We simply made the pasta first, letting the chili warm it up later when serving. If we had a second large pot or pan, though, we definitely recommend using it to finish the pasta at the same time as the chili. Using one pan adds about 10 minutes to the cook time for this recipe.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes *see note*
Total time: 35-45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 12 oz veggie crumbles
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 4 oz bourbon
- 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp malt vinegar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp chipotle chili pepper
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 15 oz can kidney beans
- 4 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- First do some initial prep work. If you only have one pan for both the chili and pasta, make the spaghetti now. If you have more, begin making it while the chili cooks later. Crush and dice the garlic. Remove the skin from the onion and dice.
- Drain the kidney beans of their liquid, and mix with most of the other ingredients – the tomato sauce, bourbon, chopped tomatoes, balsamic and malt vinegars, chili powder, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, paprika, allspice, hot sauce, and cornstarch.
- Add the oil to a large pot or pan and heat over medium high. Cook the onions until translucent, then add in the garlic and veggie crumbles.
- Cook the mixture just a few minutes until the crumbles begin to brown a bit more and are cooked through.
- Add the bowl of many mixed things into the pan and stir well.
- Once the pan is at a boil, turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid. Let it cook for about 20 minutes. If you have a second pot, this is the point to begin making the spaghetti.
- Remove the lid and stir the chili well.
- To serve, put the spaghetti on a plate, add the chili, then top with the shredded cheddar cheese to finish.
African Peanut Soup
We wanted to try a recipe that was a little bit different, but involved some pleasing flavors we’ve been using recently. You’ve seen our penchant for peanuts (e.g. Peanut Noodles, Peanut Satay to name a few) as well as our proclivity for peppers (e.g. Pad Thai, Saag Paneer for starters). This is an African style peanut soup that has just a hint of heat, some tang from the tomatoes, a bit of sweetness from the sauteed onions and is filling with a bit of rice cooked in the broth towards the end. Hope you enjoy this culinary exploration as much as we did!
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 14.5 oz crushed tomatoes packed in juice
- 32 oz vegetable broth
- Pinch chipotle chili pepper
- Pinch black pepper
- 1/3 c crunchy peanut butter
- 1/3 c uncooked rice
- First do the initial prep work. Crush and dice the garlic. Remove the skin from the onion and dice. Dice the red bell pepper.
- Add the oil to a large pot or pan and heat over medium high.
- Add the red bell pepper and onion to the pan and cook while stirring until the onions begin to start to brown.
- Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Add the tomatoes with their juice, vegetable broth, chili powder and black pepper.
- Stir everything up and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir it in.
- Cover the pan and continue cooking 15 minutes on low.
- Stir in the peanut butter until everything is well mixed.
- Turn off the heat, ladle the soup into bowls, and serve!
Jalapeno Popper Sandwich
Continuing the sandwich theme from yesterday, we are taking the concept of a jalapeno popper and forming it into a sandwich. The familiar cream cheese and jalapeno flavor is there, surrounded by crunch from crushed tortilla chips, followed by chewy ciabatta bread, and finished with a crispy buttery-fried exterior. It’s an interesting concept taking an appetizer and converting it to a more substantive entree. Even more impressive – these are arguably even easier to make than normal jalapeno poppers!
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 servings
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 jalapenos
- 3 tbsp butter
- 6 oz tortilla chips
- 1 lb ciabatta bread loaf
- 4 oz shredded colby jack cheese
- Dice the jalapenos and mix with the cream cheese and mayonnaise in a bowl.
- Crush the tortilla chips and then set them aside on a plate.
- Slice the ciabatta loaf into 4 parts, then slice in half to make sandwiches.
- Butter the outsides, top and bottom, of all the bread slices.
- Fill the sandwiches with the jalapeno cream cheese mixture, then top with the tortilla chips, followed by the cheese.
- Close the sandwiches and heat up a pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the sandwiches to the grill.
- After about 2-3 minutes or when the bottom is browned, flip the sandwich and cook another 2-3 minutes until the cheese is melted and both sides are browned.
- Repeat cooking with any remaining sandwiches, and serve!
The continued story of geeking out about the uses, powers, and secrets of avocados…
You can prevent the natural darkening or browning of the avocado flesh that occurs with exposure to air by sprinkling with a little lemon juice or vinegar. If its already ripe, make sure to then seal any leftovers in a plastic bag or plastic wrap and put in the fridge, where it will keep for up to a week. Don’t refrigerate any avocados before they’re ripe though!
If you’d like to know about the reason behind avocados dietary benefits, we’re going to get a bit geeky. First off, despite their green complexion, avocados are technically a fruit, not a vegetable – they have a massive pit and grow from avocado trees.
However, they are an incredibly unique fruit in the amount of protein and array of nutrients they provide, as well as improving the absorption of particular nutrients from itself and other foods! Besides potassium, B vitamins, several anti-inflammatory fatty acids, and other necessary nutrients, avocados have a high proportion of oleic acid (healthy monounsaturated fats also from olives and olive oil). Oleic acid helps the digestive system form transport molecules that absorb and distribute carotenoid nutrients. Nine major carotenoids (yes that’s right, the most commonly known source is carrots and other orange/red vegetables) are also found in abundance in avocados, concentrated in the darker green flesh just under the leathery outer skin. What a great combo to have wrapped up in one fruit! You may have heard carrots are good for your eyes, but most carotenoids are also antioxidants, known to give further anti-inflammatory benefits and thus help prevent arthritis and lower the risk of heart disease. The same effect applies to other fruits and vegetables (also high in carotenoids) consumed around the same time – adding a small amount of avocado to a veggie salad or salsa will actually multiply carotenoid absorption from the salad or salsa 2 to 4 times over! You’re missing out on so much without it!
Hope you’ve found this as interesting as I did. What dishes do you use avocados for?