Chili Out

Hello fall! Although I will always miss those heated days, it is time to sit down, cozy on up with your favorite blanket and dive into some warming meals.  

No no, we are not discussing pumpkin spiced foods today, we are looking into something more chil-i.

A friend of my recently decided to start eating a plant based diet. While enjoying the way he feels and exploring new foods that he would have avoided in his carnivore days, he doesn’t feel vegans have mastered the art of chili. From his experience the vegan community has nailed many interpreted dishes. Veggie burgers are layered with texture, flavor and a fattiness that is present in beef patties. Vegan pastry and cakes are now just as indulgent as their buttered-up counterparts. Even vegan barbecue has made strides in locking in the slow-cooked and smoked flavor.  

But vegan chili has remained bland and uninspired. Sticking to the basics of veg and beans, vegan chili has become no more than a vegetable soup. Nothing of the hearty, stick-to-your-bones, fuel that chili was initially intended to do.

After this discussion, my friend challenged me to the ultimate chili cook off… to create 4 flavor packed, indulgent and mouth-watering chilies that even a cowboy would approve of.

Challenge accepted.

As I began to wrap my brain around the task I realized I actually haven’t made many chilis (meat or vegetarian) and certainly not one beyond canned beans and diced squash swimming in canned tomatoes. So I went to the drawing board to research what makes a great chili and the traditional variations of chili in the United States. Don’t worry, I will just summarize what I found…

TOP 5 CHILI REQUIREMENTS:

1. Rich dynamic flavor. A chili needs to incorporate sweet, bitter, spicy flavors rounded out with a fresh element.

2. Your traditional “beefy flavor,” which for vegan purposes we are going to attribute to umami.

3. Luscious beans, that add a creamy element to the chili without breaking apart.

4. Traditionally, a deep red sauce.

5. The chilies. No use for “chili powder” here. Unique, homemade blends of dried and roasted chilies are needed to achieve the perfect chili base that adds heat and depth of flavor.

5 TRADITIONAL CHILIS:

1. Chili Verde – a base of fresh peppers and tomatillos paired with white beans and shredded chicken or pork.

2. Texas Chili – deep red sauce with hearty pieces of red meat. NO beans and vegetables are best unseen.

3. Rocky Mountain Chili- deep red sauce with notes of chocolate and coffee, packed with meat and beans.

4. Cincinnati Chili- ground beef in a tomato based sauce, mixed with beans atop a bed of spaghetti. Always found loaded up with diced onion, cheddar cheese, sour cream and oyster crackers.

5. Vegetarian Chili- red tomato based sauce, various mixture of beans and large diced vegetables.

To boil it down, I am on a mission to recreate 4 traditional chilis into delicious vegan versions that can stand on their own. Every Monday for the month of October we are going to “chili out” as I post photos and recipes for the 4 variations.

First up, we have a Chili Verde with Jackfruit and White Beans. This classily lighter chili, packs a punch of fresh chilies paired with hearty pieces of jackfruit and beans to achieve a meaty mouth feel.

Let me know what you think!

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Chili Verde

Jackfruit + Cannellini Bean Chili

Yields 10 - 12 servings

4 poblano peppers

2- 3 jalapenos, depending on heat levels

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10 tomatillos

4 cloves of garlic

3 cups white onion, about 1 ½ onions small diced

3 cups celery, ½ head of celery small diced

1 ½ cups carrots, 4 carrots small diced

1 green pepper, medium diced

2 cans Green Jackfruit

2 cans cannellini beans

1 tbsp ground cumin

½ tsp dried oregano

Tbsp yellow miso

Salt

7 cups of Vegetable Stock (recipe below) 

Optional garnish:

Unsweetened coconut yogurt

Lime wedge

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Avocado

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  1. Toss poblano peppers, garlic, tomatillos and jalapenos with olive oil and salt. Depending on your desired heat level, remove the seeds from the jalapeno before roasting. Place vegetables on sheet trays and roast for 20-25 minutes until soft and slightly charred.  

  2. While the peppers and tomatillos are roasting, small dice onions, celery and carrots. In a large soup pot, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Add diced vegetables and a heavy pinch of salt. Allow vegetables to sweat until translucent and tender, about 10-15 minutes.

  3. Add diced green pepper, ground cumin, oregano and miso allowing it to cook for another 5 minutes until cumin is fragrant. * If using store bought stock use 2 tbsp miso. Reduce heat to avoid burning.

  4. Remove peppers and tomatillos from the oven.  Remove stem and seeds from poblano peppers and jalapenos (if you have not already done so). Blend ingredients together, in a bowl using an immersion blender or blender.

  5. Add the tomatillo paste to the sautéed vegetables and 6 ½ cups of stock, stirring to incorporate. Keep heat low as you prepare the jackfruit and beans.  

  6. De- can and rinse jackfruit. Pull the jackfruit apart into ½ inch pieces, it should resemble pulled chicken. Toss in olive oil, salt, 1 tsp cumin and 1 tsp chili powder. Transfer to a sheet tray and roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. The jackfruit should have some browned edges and should feel dry.

  7.  De-can and rinse off the cannellini beans and toss into the chili base. Add all of the roasted jackfruit to the base. Bring mixture up to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Season to taste.

  8. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, and serve. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds, coconut yogurt, lime and avocado.

  9. This chili can be made ahead and stored up to 4-5 days in the fridge, or portioned and frozen for up to 4 months.

  

Vegetable stock

Adapted from Bon Appetit’s Vegan Umami Broth 

4 tbsp yellow miso

2 yellow onions, peeled and rough chopped

½ head celery, rough chopped

4 carrots, rough chopped

2 cups dried shitake mushrooms

½ bunch parsley

1/2 head of garlic

3 tbsp Olive oil

¼ cup tamari

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  1. In a small bowl whisk olive oil and miso together to be a thick paste. Add a splash of water to thin so that it is thick but pliable.

  2. Combine all prepped vegetables in a bowl tossing with the miso paste to coat. Transfer to a sheet tray and laying everything evenly in one layer, you may need two trays.

  3. Allow to roast at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Stirring occasionally to avoid burning. You want your vegetables to be browned, tender and fragrant.  

  4. In a large soup pot, place all of the roasted vegetables. Add in a ½ bunch of parsley and a ¼ cup tamari. Cover with 8-10 cups of water.

  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, uncovered. Allow broth to simmer for 1 hour.

  6. Strain broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or pot. Discard vegetable solids. Store liquid for 3-4 days in the fridge or freeze for 3-4 months.

Chickpea is the New Black

Classic, transformable and the perfect choice for any occasion, chickpeas are the little black dress of the legumes. Just as New Yorkers have deemed black the fashion staple that slims your figure, while providing just enough edge to be worn day and night. Chickpeas have mastered the same sex appeal. Now don’t get ahead of yourselves, I am not saying lets all go rogue and cover ourselves in chickpeas BUT I think it is about time we fully appreciated the versatility of the protein and fiber packed bean. 

A chickpea is so much more than a substance to be blended into a creamy, delicious hummus. The chickpea has a unique consistency that makes it the perfect ingredient to roast, fry, mash, bake and even turn into meringue! 

The Skinny

Like all beans and legumes chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are packed with protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates are the perfect addition to your diet. In fact only 1 cup of chickpeas provides half of your daily recommended fiber and 15 grams of cholesterol- free plant based protein. 

The boost of protein and fiber will have your GI tract groovin’. The fiber found in chickpeas is primarily insoluble fiber, which means it is not broken down during digestion helping your gut move the excess waste more easily and quickly. The remaining soluble fiber found in chickpeas is broken down by the bacteria in the colon to be digested into extra energy stores for the surrounding cells, improving colon health and decreasing the risk of colon cancer.

The high concentration of fiber and protein in chickpeas guarantees that you’ll be satisfied and nourished for whatever you day has in store.

Dress it Down

Chickpeas don’t require any accessories to make it delicious. you can simply eat them straight out of the can or boil them at home with an assortment of your favorite aromatics to reach full flavor potential. Simply toss them into a salad, side dish or alone. I am loving this Buddha Bowl by Minimalist Baker, its the perfect way to pump up your protein routine. 

Looking for a little more crunch? Toss your the chicks with a touch of oil and your favorite spices and roast them at 350 degrees until light golden brown and start munching. 

 

 

Dress it Up

Just like a good hair day, sometimes you need to cook up a little something special to add some va va voom to your plate. And chickpeas can do just the trick. Transform your beans into veggie burgers packed with your favorite spices and vegetables, bake them into falafel or a delicious creamy chickpea salad. Test out a few of my favorites like chickpea gyros, smashed chickpea salad and falafel!

 

The Show Stopper

So we have covered the obvious ways to add chickpeas to your daily routine without losing their identity. But we all have those days when we need to pull out the LBD that will slay like Beyonce. Luckily the chickpea holds the power to make Sasha Fierce weak at the knees.

Aquafaba is the newest vegan trend that is revolutionizing vegan baking. Aquafaba, refers to the soaking liquid from the chickpeas, either homemade or canned. The starches and proteins left in the liquid after soaking provide enough structure that it can be WHIPPED like egg whites! The whipped aquafaba is perfect for meringue, macarons, cakes or even mayonnaise! I have to admit I was a skeptic. Thinking, “even if this does work, it is going to taste like beans.”  But boy was I wrong! When I tested the classic meringue they came out light, fluffy and delicious. I did notice aquafaba is slightly more temperamental to work with than egg whites, but an awesome dairy free substitution. Check out these berry pavlovas!

But the transformation does not stop there, chickpeas can be ground into a delicious gluten free flour that can be added to quick breads, cookies, cakes, pancakes, waffles, you name it! The flour has a sturdy texture and nutty flavor that adds body to gluten free baking. However, using 100% chickpea flour can make your sweets taste chalky, so make sure to cut the chickpea flour with another flour such as rice or oat flour. For a savory twist check out these Farinatas or go classic with this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. 

Don’t take my word for it. Take the #FreshChallenge and explore the versatility of chickpeas without losing your unique sense of style. Share your recipes photos and thoughts on social @TheFreshSlice. 

The Fresh Challenge : Hemp

For this month's Fresh Challenge sit back, grab a spot on the couch and pack a bowl... of HEMP seeds! 

Hemp is a all around plant- based power house of nutrients that can be added to smoothies, salads, baked goods and well... just about anything! 

Protein Hit - Hemp hearts contain 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving. The protein found in hemp is a complete protein and easily digestible! 

Fiber Fire - Add more fire to your belly. These little seeds are full of fiber to aid your gut health and digestion. The standard diet is lacking in this nutrient as we chips in snacks instead of fruits and vegetables, but hemp can help swing the pendulum in a better direction. 

Omega-3 Good-Good - Protect your heart and improve your brain function with a daily dose of Omega- 3 fatty acids. Adding omega- 3's to your day helps reduce inflammation, reduce your risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. 

The best part about this challenge? Hemp is easy to find anywhere these days from raw hemp hearts to milks you can take the challenge out of this Fresh Challenge. Just in case you need more direction when the munchies kick in, here are a few of my blazin picks.