In Mexico where I grew up chili-dogs (that’s chili in a hot dog bun) are the all-time go-to staple for kiddie parties. It’s the accurate demonstration of being able to feed the masses for cheap cheap. They are traditionally made with a wackload of pinto beans (cheap), with some cut up hot dog wieners (cheap) and some ground beef (cheap). Calling it chili con carne is in fact not only redundant but almost absurd, because what else is chili supposed to have if not carne? Our chili always has meat. Always.
And so not too long ago a good friend of mine (gurlfriend, CHEST BUMP) and I rolled our eyes and scoffed with disapproval while discussing this ridiculous nonsense that some people call ‘vegetarian chili’. Pfft.
Now, you hear that dry heaving? That’s me swallowing my words.
As it turns out, with great knowledge comes great decision making. Or something.
Anyway, for a while now I have flat out refused to buy wieners because… they’re fucking wieners. You might as well boil a plastic bag and call it lunch. We do have ground beef occasionally, but I try to keep the times few and far in between because it’s next on the list of shit foods.
My husband is super particular when it comes to meatless meals. More than once he’s caught me red handed trying to pass an all-veggie meal as if it contained meat; though, surprisingly, he quite likes this chili. He said today that the combination of textures helps a lot: the chunkiness of the corn and peas with the chewiness of the mushrooms makes it difficult to even notice the meat is missing. This from my very omnivorous significant other. THERE IS HOPE.
I do love me a one pan dinner, the kind that lets you take advantage of the odd lonely veggie, that doesn’t require much attention and that can satisfy even a picky meat eater. This chili meets all these qualifications, and then some.
Quinoa Vegetable Chili (a.k.a. Don’t Dare Call It Mexican Chili)
3/4 C cooked quinoa
Red kidney beans, or pinto beans, or black beans.
1/2 orange, red or yellow bell pepper (or a combination of the three), chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 white onion (Spanish onion), chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Tomato sauce (homemade is best)
Worcestershire sauce (omit to keep it vegan)
1 Tbs of cooking oil
Chili powder, paprika, oregano, white pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste.
If you’re anything like me you’ll have some quinoa left over from making soup. There’s something about quinoa, no matter how hard I try to be precise I always manage to make double what I need. If not, remember to soak the uncooked quinoa in water for 15 minutes, discard the water and cook it in a saucepan with vegetable broth, allowing for the broth to boil and immediately bringing down the heat to low. Cover and leave it for ten minutes. Remove from the heat.
In a medium saucepan heat your cooking oil and add the diced onions (red and white) and the bell pepper. After about 2 minutes add the finely chopped garlic. Allow it to saute for a minute or two, then add the rest of the vegetables and the tomato sauce. If the sauce is too thick feel free to add some water in small increments. Add your spices little by little until you find your perfect taste and let it all simmer, allowing for the flavors to mesh.
If I can be honest I’ll tell you to season the shit out of that thing, especially with lots of chili powder. After all, it’s what makes chili taste like chili. Whodathunk it.
Remember to use up anything you have sitting in your fridge, this dish can take it all. Carrots, leeks, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes are all good additions. This recipe should make about 4 servings, but add as much stuff as you want because any leftovers freeze beautifully. And hello, ready made dinner!
And now, you hear that? That’s the sound of Mexico gasping at my betrayal. Chili con carne be damned.