Vegetarian Chili with Smoky Pickled Onions
Serves 4 to 6.
Earthy and rich Chili Today! lends depth and a pleasant touch of heat to this vegetarian/vegan chili.
Using dried beans does take a bit a planning but not much effort. It's totally worth doing because quality dried beans offer superior flavor and texture. Seek out locally grown dried beans at farm stands and local markets.
Garnishing the chili with pickled onions adds a welcome bright note — be sure to make them! (Recipe on the below.) Serve the chili alongside a bowl of tortilla chips and a selection of toppings such as grated cheddar or crumbled cotija cheese, chile flakes, Greek yogurt, cilantro, scallions, and avocado.
Notes: You'll only use about 8 ounces of dried beans, but we recommend
soaking a full pound. Once soaked and drained, scoop out the beans
needed for the recipe, then freeze the extras so that they're ready to go next time
you want to whip up some chili or soup!
2 cans (15-ounces each) beans, drained (kidney, black, or pinto beans)
or 8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dried beans
1 tablespoon sea salt, divided
¼ cup olive oil (avocado, grapeseed, or olive)
2 cups diced onion
¼ cup minced celery
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon Chili Today blend
1 bay leaf
1 can (15-ounces) diced tomatoes
1 cup cooked grain, such as farro, barley, brown rice, or bulgur (optional)
Black pepper, to taste
Fresh lemon or lime juice
If using dried beans Do this step the night before you plan to make the chili.
Rinse the dried beans well under cool running water, drain and put them into a large mixing bowl (they will double in bulk). Top with enough water to cover the beans by 3 inches and stir in the 2 teaspoons of the salt. Set the bowl aside, letting the beans soak overnight (or 6 hours minimum). Drain the beans.
Make the chili Heat the oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the onions and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and continue cooking and stirring until the onions are golden, another 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, peppers, and Chili Today followed by the beans and cook for 2–3 minutes more.
Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, bay leaf, tomatoes and their juice, black pepper to taste, and 3 1/2 cups of water to the pan. Stir and let the liquids come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chili is saucy and the beans are tender — about 20 minutes if using canned beans; or, 40 minutes to an hour if using presoaked dried beans.
Add the cooked grain (if using), stir to mix through, and simmer for a few minutes until heated through. Add a few drops of lemon or lime juice to balance the flavors. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot.
Smoky Pickled Onions
Makes 1 cup.
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion half-rings
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons sugar, divided
¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1–2 tablespoons minced, fresh jalapeño pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon neutral oil, such as canola or avocado
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, such as Champagne or Prosecco
Juice from ½ lime (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons roughly chopped, fresh cilantro
Pinch of baies roses (pink peppercorns)
Put the sliced onion into a medium, non-reactive bowl. Add the salt and ½ teaspoon of the sugar and toss to coat the onions. Set aside for at least 15 minutes (and up to an hour).
Drain the onions in a sieve, then dump them back into the bowl. Run cold water into the bowl and swish the onions around for a few seconds before draining them again. Repeat this 'rinse' once more, then allow the onions to drain for a couple of minutes. Gently pat the onions with a clean tea towel to remove excess water.
Dry the bowl and return the onions to it. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let the pickles stand for another 10–15 minutes before serving. (The pickles will be ready to eat at this point, but their flavor will develop further when made ahead and refrigerated for a few hours.)