Vegetarian chili

I’ve been having cravings for meat. Ground meat. It’s funny, because before this diet I never really cared for ground beef as I generally find it too greasy. But now that I’m supposed to eat less meat and more vegetables or vegetarian alternatives, I’ve suddenly started staring at hamburgers and thinking of meatloaf.

One substitute that has worked well in the past is veggie ground round, a soy-based product that has the look and texture of ground beef. Now, it doesn’t taste like ground beef, so it’s best used in dishes where the meat taste isn’t necessarily the star, such as a baked pasta dish.

Last night I deflowered my virgin Le Creuset and made some tricksy vegetarian chili. This stuff looks, tastes and has the texture of regular chili but lets you avoid the grease and fat of red meat. The recipe is a mishmash of various other chili recipes that I’ve found in books and online.

Vegetarian chili

Vegetarian chili in my new Le Creuset

Vegetarian chili
Makes approximately 5-6 servings.

Ingredients
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 small packages of veggie ground round (624 g)
1 cup broth (I cheated and used chicken broth as that’s what I had available at the time, but to make this truly vegetarian use vegetable broth or water.)
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp cayenne pepper (This amount will make your dish very spicy, so reduce the amount if you want something more mild.)
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large can diced tomatoes (796 mL/28 fl oz)
1 cup corn (I used frozen corn.)
2 large cans red kidney beans, drained (540 mL/19 fl oz)
salt to taste

Directions
If using a Dutch or French oven, warm up your pot on medium. Sauté your onion in the olive oil until the onion starts to turn translucent. Add the garlic and fry until the garlic turns golden. Add the veggie ground round and break it up until it resembles loose ground beef. (N.B. if using real meat, I would omit the olive oil and cook the meat first before adding the onion and garlic, as the fat from the meat will replace the oil.)

Add the broth and stir to combine. The veggie ground round will soak up most of the liquid. Add your spices and stir throughly, then add the diced tomatoes including all the liquid in the can. Turn up the heat slightly to bring the contents to a simmer, and let it simmer for approximately 10 minutes or so.

Add the frozen corn and stir. You can defrost the corn before adding it to the chili, but I’m lazy so I just add it frozen and let it defrost in the pot. Add the red kidney beans, stir, and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Salt to taste and adjust other spices as needed.

Variations: add different beans like black beans, pinto beans, or white kidney beans. Add green and/or red peppers. Add hot peppers. Serve chili with corn bread or whole grain toast. Top with shredded cheddar or sour cream.

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