There are some evenings that demand an easy recipe, where you can chuck in the ingredients and just stir from time to time. Minimum thought, minimum effort. This week, after a day dealing with German bureaucracy, that’s exactly what I needed, so this is what I made. I love that I can just relax and enjoy the smell of spices as the flavours marry together. It’s the perfect comfort food.
I talk a lot about comfort food. I think I’m beginning to realise that it’s my thing, especially at this time of year, when the pavements glitter with frost and the sweaters have long since been rediscovered. Something slow cooked and rich is perfect for soothing the soul on a cold evening, although I also love that it doesn’t take too much imagination to transform a roasted pepper chilli into something more summery too (hello nachos). The great thing about this particular recipe is that it’s always in season, as it’s made largely of store cupboard essentials, so if you’re snowed in, or ill, or just don’t want to step out into the drizzle to fill the fridge, you don’t have to. During the hazy days of summer you can just swap out jarred peppers for fresh. It’s great for when you need some lovin’ no matter if the sun is shining or if there’s rain lashing at your window.
And it’s easy to make for a crowd. Need I say more?
Let’s talk beans
So it turns out beans are quite the divisive topic. I know beans to be in most variants of chilli, at least this side of the pond, but for some that is tantamount to blasphemy. Historically, the use of beans was due to the cost of meat, with chilli con carne having always been a peasant dish. However, they become more important when you remove all the meat from the original dish, not just for flavour, but for texture and protein too.
For me, I like to keep it classic and use kidney beans, but also throw in some chickpeas for a more sturdy texture. Half of the kidney beans will be mashed to thicken and add richness to the tomato-based sauce and the other remain whole.
If you don’t like beans full stop, this is probably not the recipe for you. Instead hunt down a ‘Texas Style’ chilli that will leave them out, and if you still want to keep it veggie then try jackfruit or adding in more veggies to get the right texture.
How to serve chilli?
When serving the chilli there are so many options. Here are five of my favourites.
- Go for the classic option and have it heaped over rice
- You can shove it in a wrap and make a veggie burrito
- Keep the healthy vibe alive by accompanying with quinoa
- Throw in some tortilla chips and make nachos
- Simply shred some lettuce, add a generous scoop of guacamole with a wedge of lime on the side, and maybe if you’re feeling cheeky a little cheese too.
Vegetarian chilli con carne recipe
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- 3 shallots, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 2 red peppers, roasted (use jarred if not in season)
- 1 dried cayenne chilli
- 2 tsp cumin
- 3 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 800g tinned tomatoes
- 400g tinned kidney beans, half mashed, half whole
- 200g tinned/jarred chickpeas
- If you haven’t already, roast your peppers at in the oven at 200C for 30 mins. If peppers aren’t in season, use jarred – they work super well. Whether using jarred or fresh, dice them roughly.
- Sweat down the shallots and garlic in a saucepan over a medium heat, with a little olive oil. Using shallots over onions gives a little sweetness, but if you don’t have any use 1 onion instead.
- Once cooked add in the roasted, diced peppers and all of the spices, stirring regularly. Make sure the spices don’t burn or this can leave your chilli tasting bitter.
- Pour in the tinned tomatoes and allow the chilli to simmer for about half an hour with the lid on, stirring from time to time.
- After that time remove the lid and add the mashed half of the kidney beans. Leave the lid off and allow the veggie chilli to simmer for a further half an hour.
- Add in the remaining kidney beans and chickpeas and combine well.
- After a few minutes, once the beans are heated through, season to taste and serve with rice, quinoa, wraps or tortilla chips.