Up until today, I'd never made a vegetarian chili. I was inspired to make it by my friend Suzanne who served it at her dinner party over the weekend, leaving a crowd of non-vegetarians totally satisfied. I love vegetarian food (to some extent - tempeh and mungbeans freak me out) and I've learned to appreciate vegetables in starring roles rather than supporting roles. I love the variety of different flavours and textures you get when making vegetables the main focus of a meal. I also find that when I'm eating too much meat, I notice. I love meat in small quantities, but I begin to feel the cumulative effect of too much meat; I begin to feel really heavy and gross. I don't have the strongest digestive system out there, and I find that I feel a lot better when I have less meat in my diet, while still maintaining a proper nutritional balance.
So if you're feeling a little meat heavy, throw together this chili. It's chock full of vegetables and you can use up all those old relics you have languishing in your fridge. Feel free to swap vegetables in or out to your liking. You can also use kidney beans instead of pinto if that floats your boat. I've had a can of pinto beans in my cupboard for a few months that just wasn't getting eaten, so I used those. They were a little softer than kidney and they broke down a little bit. This softness helped to maintain a balance of textures when paired with the chunky vegetables.
vegetarian corn chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping cup of diced carrots (cut in coins and halved depending on size)
1 cup diced zucchini
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
a few shakes of chili flakes (to your taste)
1 540 ml can of whole pinto beans (I used La Costeña brand)
1 28 oz (796 ml) can of diced tomatoes, juice included
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, plus extra for sprinkling
sour cream & cheddar cheese garnish
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot and sautee onions and garlic together. When they have become transluscent, add the carrot and cook until they have softened, but still have bite. Add zucchini, chili powder, cumin and chili flakes. Sautee until everything is slightly softened and fragrant.
- Add the corn and allow that to cook for about 2 minutes before adding the pinto beans and diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and let it go for about 15 minutes, checking for flavour and the texture of the vegetables.
- Ladel into bowls and serve with a dollop of sour cream, some grated cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of cilantro.