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January 31, 2009

Spicy Vegetarian Chili for the Super Bowl

VegetarianChili2.jpgUnder an earlier post on the best chili in town, Mary Roby offered to share her spicy vegetarian chili recipe if folks were interested. I told her I would publish it if she sent me a photo of the chili as well.

Here it is, just in time for the Super Bowl. Although I'm going to hear it from the Real Men who don't think vegetarian chili is an appropriate dish for the most important Sunday of the year.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit magazine. ...

Spicy Vegetable Chili

¼ cup bulgur
2 ½ cups boiling water (or more)

¼ cup olive oil
2 small or 1 large onion, finely chopped
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrots
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup dry white wine (can omit or use vegetable broth)
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 zucchini, chopped or 1 green pepper, chopped
½ cup canned chopped tomatoes

1 can of all one kind or 1 can mixed canned, drained beans
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons, dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon, dried

Place bulgur in medium bowl.  Pour ½ cup boiling water over.  Cover and let stand until softened, about 15 minutes.

Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper, and stir until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add wine (or broth) and 2 cups water.  Bring to boil.  Add bell pepper, zucchini, and tomatoes to saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Add bulgur and beans, basil and oregano to chili.  Simmer until chili is thick, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(Can be prepared one day ahead.  Cover and refrigerate.  Bring to a simmer before serving, thinning with more water if chili is too dry.)

Other vegetables, like frozen corn, can be added for variety.  Additional tomato paste can be used if not using canned chopped tomatoes.

Note: The proportions don’t seem to matter too much once you have started with the onions, carrots, and celery base.  I usually use more beans and a whole can of tomato paste and a whole can of tomatoes.  Adjust spices to taste.

This recipe appeared in Bon Appetit, Sept. 1996.

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 7:20 AM | | Comments (12)


Mary R. - Thank you! I just printed this and plan to make it soon. It sounds very hearty and delicous. EL - thanks for posting it! :)

I've been making a variation on this chili since my college days - pretty much the same recipe. The bulgur wheat gives a really nice texture. And yes, it is hearty and delicious.

We used to have a franchise of the Hard Times Cafe chili parlor chain here in Bel Air. Their vegetarian chili was terrific, featuring jalapeno peppers and peanuts. I looked up the recipe on their website and it is simplicity itself to make.

MD Canon, we used to have one in Columbia. I asked which was their spiciest chili and they said the vegetarian, so that is what I usually ordered. Yes, the peanuts did make it special.

Almost forgot - like most chili recipes it should be made the day before and left to blend overnight in the refrigerator.

I wonder if one could use tempeh instead of the bulgur? Tempeh seems like it should be used in chili, but I'm still figuring this stuff out.

Forgive me, Jupiter -- and I know this is shallow and insensitive of me -- but when it comes to the fineries of bulgur substitution, without any conscious command my eyes start gazing at the upper reaches of their sockets. My only relief is to meditate on Genesis 9:3 ff.

Tempeh would work great in chili. I'd crumble it & brown it in a pan with some spice for a while, then maybe add a bit of vegetable broth for moisture before using it. A quick search reveals that there are plenty of tempeh chili recipes online.

I've also found tempeh makes great meatless meatballs. I mush 'em up (by hand works best), add garlic & other spices/herbs, an egg, finely shredded/diced carrots and onions, and some cheese and roll them into balls. A bake at 400 or so until they're brown and they're ready. Great for subs with a spicy tomato sauce.

Hmm, MD Canon, I'd maybe recommend skipping the entries for vegetarian chili, etc in the future. You know, to save your eyes all that work!

Mary Roby--many thanks for this recipe. We tried it and it was very tasty--and we didn't miss the meat at all. The leftovers were great! I followed the recipe pretty closely, except that I added a small can of Rotel instead of plain tomatoes, to up the heat quotient.

Mary R - I made it too and it is awesome! Dahlink is right - didn't miss the meat at all. I added Sazon but that's the only change I made. Thanks again for the great recipe!

Glad you enjoyed it!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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