Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow Day: Two Bean Vegetarian Chili

There are precious few quiet weekends in our house, these days. Between work, and the seemingly endless string of birthday parties (Ian is much more popular, at age three, than I ever was), and laundry, and youth group, and a thousand other random commitments, sometimes I worry that we rush more on the weekends than we do on weekday mornings. On a particularly busy weekend, Ian once said to me, "Mommy, sit with me and have a conversation and watch the rainbows." How sage, at the ripe old age of three.

In a way, I was glad to see the storm coming this weekend. It meant that we'd be stuck inside, watching the snow fall, nowhere to go. And when it finally came, it was everything I'd hoped. We spent the morning playing outside, making snow angels and digging in the pristine white with sticks, making groundhog holes. We baked cookies. We squashed and molded Playdoh. And all the while, I made chili, which will feed us for a few nights this week. And no, we did not go to or host a Superbowl party this weekend; the chili was all for us.

The particularly cool thing about this dish is that it's vegan, and everyone loves it anyway. (Sometimes, actually I think Ian would rather eat vegetarian.) Veggie chili is almost a no-brainer. So I can feel like I'm being successful in my attempts to eat more ethically, a quest that was the result of two particularly moving conversations with a farmer friend of mine and a former biology teacher turned stay-at-home-mom this past summer, about treating all living things with dignity (not that I'm anti-meat, mind you; I'm just anti-meat that has had to live its life in crowded quarters, shot full of antibiotics, and treated like it's already being measured in pounds). And it's full of fiber and protein, and low in fat and calories, because of the bulghur, which just seems to give the dish more body.

The other cool thing about it is that it works well in a crockpot, when I don't feel like working very hard at cooking, and when watching the rainbows is more important.

Two Bean Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
3 large jalapeño chilies, seeded, minced (about 4 1/2 tablespoons)
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree
3 cups water
2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1/2 cup bulgur
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, red bell pepper, and jalapeños and sauté until onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, 3 cups water, beans, bulgur, white wine vinegar, garlic, and spices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until bulgur is tender and mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Ladle chili into bowls and serve.

OR ... put everything in your crockpot and turn in on low for six hours.
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