Monday, September 13, 2010

Chilly Outside, Chili Inside

Now that the weather is turning a bit, with some rain and cooler temperatures, it is a good time to start making meals in which I turn on the stove again. This week I'm sharing one of my favourite stalwart fall & winter cookbooks. Although I'm meatless every day, anyone who wants to start going meatless easily may find this book a very handy resource. There are tons of easy and delicious recipes in it that don't depend on meat for their heartiness.

The Vegetarian Chili Cookbook: 80 Deliciously Different One-Dish Meals / Robin Robertson
Boston: Harvard Common Press, c1998.
160 p.

This is a favourite cookbook, one I've had for some years. I've made at least half the recipes in it, with some turning into huge favourites.

It is what it says it is: a collection of 80 chili recipes. They range from the more traditional to some gourmet versions. Some are simple and quick, incorporating such things as ready-made veggie burgers and salsa, and others are very elegant, using seasonings like thyme and orange zest, chocolate or tequila. The connecting factor in all is the use of some kind of chili powder. Robertson opens the book by giving us some recipes for homemade chili powder of different heats. She closes the book with a wonderful chapter on recipes to use up leftover chili if you don't want to keep eating plain bowls of it for a week. (if you click on the book cover, you will be able to 'look inside' this book and see a few of the recipes).

Some of the recipes fit the chili designation loosely, such as one made with chickpeas, yellow peppers, tomatoes and apple juice - it does have a bit of chili flavour but is very mild and stew-like rather than spicy and chunky (and I love it). My favourite recipe in the book, though, is the last one, "Sandi's Award-Winning Five Spice Chili". It incorporates prepared vegetarian 'ground beef' (I like Yves brand), baked beans, and Chinese 5-spice powder, among other things. It is thick and faintly sweet and absolutely delicious, even though I have cut down the amount of 5-spice powder - I like a hint, not a strong taste, of that spice. It is a fun book to have out during fall and winter, with many options to try out.

After using this book heavily the first year I had it, I was thinking in chili when I made suppers, and thus came up with my own variety from what I had in the fridge one night. It is a milder mix, not too spicy, but still quite chili-like, and good over pasta or rice, or just with fresh bread alongside. I'll share it, since it was inspired by my usage of this book, and hope that you will want to pick up a copy of this great chili book for the chilly winter months ahead!

Chili Italiano

1 large onion
2-3 garlic cloves
1 green pepper
3 small carrots
1-2 medium zucchini
2 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
Dash cayenne
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with Italian herbs
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes with Italian herbs, broken up
1 tsp. Italian herbs
1 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pkg. Yves Veggie Cuisine Italian style Ground Round

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until they begin to soften. Add all vegetables, chopped into bite sized pieces, chili powder and cayenne, and stir. Add both cans of tomatoes and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Keep on a low boil 10-15 minutes, stirring often. Add italian herbs, chickpeas and Ground Round, mix in and simmer for 10 minutes. Good over pasta or with toasted Italian bread.


  1. The book/recipes sound great. Haven't thought about chili in ages -- suddenly very much in the mood. (Though not a strict vegetarian, I'm always happiest when not eating meat...)

  2. Lisa - glad to hear it appeals!

    carin - this is an inspiring cookbook, especially when fall arrives :)


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