This was a really easy week night dinner! Last week we had a few drizzly and gloomy days so I was craving chili. I figured I better make it one more time before it is too warm and I have to wait for fall. I wanted to experiment with a meatless chili. I really try to cook meatless as much as possible during the week. I did use chicken stock in the recipe, but that would be easy to switch to veggie stock if you wanted it to be a true vegetarian meal. I also wanted something quick and easy… this totally fit the bill! AND it gave me another use for my new favorite grain…farro. Farro is a whole grain that looks a little like barley, and retains a soft but chewy texture when cooked. It is rich in fiber, magnesium and vitamins A, B, C, and E, and is low in gluten. When combined with legumes, it becomes a complete protein…perfect for a meatless dinner! For this recipe I used a semi-pearled farro (a portion of the outer bran has been removed) which cooks more quickly than hulled farro (all of the outer bran is left intact). I love the way that the farro gives the chili a texture that makes me not miss the meat! You can buy Farro at health food stores like Whole Foods or Williams-Sonoma. You can also buy it on line at Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Roland-Farro-3-lbs-Bag/dp/B0028VZEJQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1336406809&sr=8-1
Food Critics’ Rating: Max (my 8 year old) gave this dinner two very enthusiastic thumbs up and highly enjoyed left-overs the next day. Finn (my picky 5 year old)…not so much. He ate it with complaints and kept saying “were is the meat part?”. My husband really liked it.
I have seen a lot of vegetarian chili recipes with sweet potato so I wanted to try it in mine. I am the only person in my family who likes sweet potato so I decided to do it on the side and add it to my serving to avoid any complaints. I diced up 1 sweet potato and tossed it with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted it in my toaster oven at 45o degrees for about 25 minutes. It came out delicious and added a yummy sweetness to the chili. I’m sure it would cook fine if you did it with the chili, but this way the non-sweet potato eaters in the family wouldn’t complain. I love the way it tastes roasted so I would probably just do it this way all the time.
So…here is the recipe to this super easy almost vegetarian chili:
3/4 cup semi-pearled farro
1 quart of organic chicken stock (or vegetable stock to keep this completely vegetarian)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 seven ounce can of whole Ortega chiles, drained, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons of cumin (I don’t love cumin, so I only use 1 teaspoon)
1 – 2 tablesppons of chili powder (depending on how hot you like your chili)
1 28 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 can each of kidney beans, black beans, & garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
a couple shakes of tobasco
crumbled queso fresco, cilantro, chopped scallions, avocado, black olives, sour cream
In a small saucepan, cook the farro in 2 cups of the chicken stock. You may need to rinse the farro first – check your package directions. Add farro and stock to pan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and fluff with a fork. Set aside while you make the chili. In a large Dutch oven, saute the onion and pepper in olive oil for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the green chiles, cumin, and chili powder and mix well. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Cover and let simmer stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes. If you want to serve this with the sweet potato you can prepare it while the chili is cooking. Dice one or two sweet potatoes into cubes and toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a conventional oven or toaster oven at 450 for about 15-20 minutes. After the chili simmers for 20 minutes, add the beans and cooked farro and mix well. Add a few dashes of Tobasco sauce for some extra heat and flavor, taste to see if you need salt or pepper – depending on how salty your chicken stock is you may not need it…I needed about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Serve with any or all of the optional garnishes.