Monday, February 14, 2011

Award-winning black bean chili

On February 6th, our awesome local vegan store, Never Felt Better hosted their first cooking competiton, a chili cookoff, and guess what?  WE WON FIRST PRIZE!  Here's the recipe we've developed. It's a bit of work, but worth the effort. I hope you enjoy it too! Makes a GIANT freaking pot o'chili.

  •  3 cups dry black beans, cooked in a 2qt crockpot full of water for 8 hours (this will be added, liquid and all, so don't drain them)
  •  2 cups cooked short grain brown rice
  •  2 tsps olive oil
  •  1 diced onion
  •  2 diced poblano chili peppers
  •  3 tbsp chili powder        
  •  3 tbsp cumin powder
  •  1 12 oz bottle hard cider (apple or pear)
  •  1 6 oz can tomato paste
  •  1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  •  1 lb frozen corn
  •  1 tbsp cocoa powder
  •  1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  •  1/4 tsp cinnamon
  •  1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  •  1/4 cup toasted unsalted pumpkin seeds (if you can't find unsalted ones, start with raw ones and toast them yourself, which is what we do, or add less extra salt) coarsely ground
  •  6 (or more) cloves of garlic, crushed
  •  1 very large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, diced and roasted at 425 for about 45 minutes, until edges start to caramelize
  •  1/2 tsp molasses
  •  1 tsp sea salt


Saute onion and peppers in olive oil until onion is translucent. Add cumin and chili powder, saute until liquid is absorbed by the spices. Add the cider, chipotle powder, cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, ground pumpkin seeds, and molasses. Bring to a simmer. Add canned tomatoes (do not drain) and liquid, and tomato paste. Stir in the beans, squash, rice, corn, garlic, and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for 12-48 hours and reheat, which lets the flavors meld and improves them. Really great with lime juice, chipotle Tabasco, Daiya cheese, diced onion, avocado, toasted pumpkin seeds, faux sour cream, or just as is.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lentil-nut Stroganoff

Ok, so it's February and I'm just now posting Christmas dinner. Sorry, folks. This is one of the most complicated recipes I make, something we use for a fancy holiday meal.

One of my extended family's favorite special occasion meals is beef stroganoff.  It's a dish of cubed beef, sometimes mushrooms, stewed in a paprika laden sour cream sauce, usually served over egg noodles. Tricky to veganize, right? In order to do so, I started with a base recipe that I was introduced to several years ago when my friend Juli made a bunch of freeze-and-eat dinners for our family to eat while we were dealing with some major medical crap. The original mixture was intended for a shepherd's pie filling, but I've found the combination to be quite adaptable to serve in things like taco filling, sloppy joes, and this dish. To make the basic mock-ground beef  you need:

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1/4 cup short grain brown rice or hulled barley
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (walnuts will certainly work, I'd expect that sunflower seeds would probably substitute well if you needed to adapt the recipe to be nut-free)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast extract spread, such as Vegemite or Marmite
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon or 1 tsp vegetable broth concentrate (I use Better than Bouillon)

Combine this in a covered saucepan, a smallish one will do, and simmer on medium until the lentils are fully cooked, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables:

  • 1 pound cremini (white button will work too) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbs olive oil

You are going to want a larger pot for this step,  because this is where the whole deal is going to end up. Saute the onions and mushrooms in the olive oil until the onions are translucent and starting to reduce. Once you reach that point, add

  • 4 teaspoons paprika (I prefer smoked paprika in this dish, but either way works)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (fresh ground is going to have better flavor than preground, if you use pre-ground, then you might decide to increase it some) 
  • 1/2 cup white wine

Simmer this until the wine evaporates. At this point, add either

  • 2 tablespoons of flour OR 1 tablespoon tapioca or cornstarch

Stir this in to the mixture, and continue to stir for about one minute after the flour vanishes into it. Then add 2 cups of water. About this time, your lentil stuff should be ready, the lentils should be whole, but tender. Dump that pot into this one and stir it together. Add

  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 2-3 cloves minced or pressed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

You're almost done. The final ingredient you add right before serving,

  • 3/4 cup sour cream substitute 

I usually use Tofutti's non-hydrogenated Better than Sour Cream.

I usually serve this with a pile of steamed broccoli and a pound of Trader Joe's whole wheat rotelle. For the wheat free version, serve it over rice, quinoa, or gluten free pasta. Makes a whole lot - feeds 5-6 with leftovers as part of a holiday meal.