What with our record breaking frigid weather and the new Canadian food guide promoting more plant based meals, I thought to myself; timing couldn’t be better, woman. So here we have it.
My long standing beef with veggie based chili (ha! beef.) is that they’re sort of underwhelming. Part of the joy of traditional chili is the heartiness, the meatiness, the satisfaction that comes along with eating a bowl where the meat has been browned and braised over hours. That smoky-meaty-magic is something that always seems to be missing from a bowl of beans and veg IMO.
So here, I get a little tricky and offer some tips to hearty-it-up.
The first tip is to get some colour on the sautéd vegetables. Don’t just cook them until they’re soft, cook them until they start to brown up and even stick to the bottom of the pan a wee bit. Get some caramelization GOING ON. This won’t totally mimic seared meat, but hang on, I’ve got more.
Third, once your chili has simmered for the requisite 20 minutes (a big bonus for meatless chili – sooo fast) you’ll be blending a portion of it and adding it back in. This is a serious genius hack to thicken the thin chili broth and give it a third dose of ‘hearty’.
Finally, it’s all about the accoutrements. When you go entirely meatless, you miss out one of the most satisfying components of all…FAT. Other than the oil used for sautéing the veggies, this recipe is nearly fat free. Once served, add a drizzle of good olive oil, some cubed avocado, a big dollop of full fat yogurt and/or a generous sprinkling of your favourite cheese, to make this humble bowl of beans and vegetables a star.0