May 31, 2011
Yesterday was Memorial Day, and we know we were supposed to be out grilling meats, but we actually did our grilling a day early. On Sunday we had a few friends over for skewers of Middle Eastern seasoned lamb, chicken, zucchini, and onions, with Israeli couscous and tzatziki sauce. Our friend Andrea made pita chips (homemade pita chips! Delicious!) and hummus, and our friend Kathryn brought over this amazing Summer Strawberry Cake from Smitten Kitchen.
So, having had our fill of meats and beer (and strawberry cake), we now bring you one of our favorite veggie recipes. I've been making this since my vegetarian phase in high school, when I abruptly announced to my parents that I was no longer eating meat, and that they would have to completely change their cooking and eating habits to accommodate me (that last part was implied; I, being 17, had not really thought about how my decision would affect anyone else). My parents were very good sports about it, and we started making some of the meatless recipes from The New Basics Cookbook. Fortunately everyone enjoyed them, and I kept this recipe in my repertoire from my earliest cooking days (actually I made this for dinner for a bunch of friends, including Michael, when he and I were just friends in grad school) to now. Michael and I find that we always come back to this one. It's so flavorful and satisfying, and the perfect use of so many tasty summer vegetables. Although I was only a vegetarian for about a year, and the decision was rather hasty, I'm glad that I did it, because I think it changed the way I think about meals and meat. Before that, my idea of a meal was based around a meat, with some sides. This chili (and the New Basics vegetable lasagna) made me realize that a filling, hearty meal can be based entirely on vegetables, and I've been cooking with that in mind even since I started eating meat again.
Black Bean Vegetable Chili (makes 4-5 servings)
Adapted from The New Basics Cookbook
- Olive oil, for cooking
- 1 small eggplant
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 medium onion
- 1 large red pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 4 small tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- 2 tsp cumin
- 4 tsp chili powder
- Dash of cayenne
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 ear of corn, removed from the cob
- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Sour cream, for garnish
- Green onions, for garnish
Dice the eggplant, zucchini, onion, and pepper into cubes about 1/4 inch (the eggplant will cook separately; the other veggies can all be mixed together).
In a large skillet, heat about a tablespoon of oil, just over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and cook until the pieces are just tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in your largest pot, heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat, and when it's ready add the garlic, zucchini, onions, and peppers, and cook until the vegetables are soft and most of the water has evaporated (about 10 minutes).
While the vegetables are cooking, chop the tomatoes into 1/4 inch dice, and chop the basil and parsley if you haven't already. When the vegetables are cooked, put the eggplant into the pot with the other veggies, then add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, stock, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Give the mixture a good stir and bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover the pot loosely and let it cook for about 30 minutes.
While the chili is cooking, dry roast the corn (we use the same skillet we used for the eggplant - just wipe it out with a paper towel and you're ready to go). Heat the skillet (dry) to medium high heat, then add the corn kernels. Cook until they have started to brown and become fragrant (about 8 minutes), then remove to a bowl.
When the chili has been cooking for about 30 minutes, stir in the corn, beans, and lemon juice, and let it cook at a simmer for 15 minutes more. Serve, garnished with sour cream, green onions, and cheese, if you like. We like to eat this with a side of a simple cheese quesadilla - pepper jack in a flour tortilla.