Meatless Monday: Meatless Chili

meaty meatless chili
I’ve been making black bean chili for about 10 years now. It’s my go-to dish for the fall, especially when serving a crowd. But when I make it, I don’t call it “vegetarian chili,” even though it is. I think calling something vegetarian still freaks people out a little bit, as if it might have some scary mystery ingredient that vegetarians use to ward off meat-lovers and vampires, like TVP or tofu. Lots of dishes are technically vegetarian if you think about it; apple pie is meatless, but no one offers a slice of “vegetarian apple pie,” do they?

So to me, chili is chili. Sometimes it’s made with beef, sometimes chicken, sometimes just beans, and some recipes are loaded with vegetables like zucchini and carrots. Rachael Ray’s Meaty, Meat-less Chili is made with black beans and portobello mushrooms, plus traditional chili ingredients like cumin and hot peppers. It’s hearty, filling and comforting — perfect for a fall potluck or football party. No need to call it vegetarian chili, but you’re vegetarian friends will love it, and so will your meat-loving pals.

Meaty, Meat-less Chili

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

Serves 4

3 medium ancho chiles
1 quart vegetable or chicken stock-in-a-box (choose vegetable stock to make this chili truly meatless)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 portabella caps, wiped clean, gills scraped, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 green or red chile, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A scant palmful smoked paprika
A scant palmful cumin
A scant palmful coriander
Pinch ground cinnamon
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
1 cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lime
A handful fresh cilantro or fresh parsley
Toasted pepitas or sunflower seeds for garnish, optional
Tortilla chips, 2 (1-ounce) bags or couple handfuls, optional

Stem and seed the ancho chiles and place in a pot with stock, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and keep warm.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 4 turns of the pan. Add the mushrooms to the hot oil and brown 12 to 15 minutes, then add the garlic, onions, chile, salt and black pepper and soften 5 to 6 minutes more, season with a spice mixture of paprika, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.

Puree the reconstituted chiles and stock in a food processor. Add the chile stock mixture, beans, and tomatoes to the chili, cook 15 minutes until thickened, then turn off the heat, cool, cover and chill for make-ahead meal.

To reheat: Cover the chili and place over medium to medium-high heat, stirring frequently until the chili bubbles, then uncover and simmer until ready to serve.

Combine the avocado, sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, and salt in food processor and process into a smooth avocado-sour cream sauce for stirring into the chili. Serve the chili in shallow bowls and garnish with the avocado sauce, pepitas, if using, and a few tortilla chips, if using.

More Meatless Monday Recipes:

mario bataliThis week’s Meatless Monday Mover and Shaker is Mario Batali, host of Molto Mario and Ciao America, and a longtime lover of meat. Mario is such a fan of the meat-free campaign, which aims to improve health by eliminating meat just once per week, that he’s adopted Meatless Monday in all 14 of his restaurants around the country. He’s not ridding meat from his menu altogether; he’ll still offer the dishes his restaurants are known for. But the meatless dishes on each menu will be marked with a logo: MM, for Meatless Monday, to make them easier to find.