This chili has been a work-in-progress for quite some time. It all started a few months back, when I happened to be scanning Susan of The Fat Free Vegan Kitchen‘s “Stews and Chilies” section. I just couldn’t choose: smoky refried bean soup, or black-bean pineapple stew? And suddenly, inspiration struck: I’ll make both! In one pot! It’ll be the sweet, smoky lovechild chili to end all chilis! So I enthusiastically got to work, adjusting measurements here, subbing veggies there and generally putting everything that sounded tasty that day on one long grocery list. And that first attempt? It was absolutely…mediocre.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a disaster. There was just something…missing. A passable amount of flavor, definitely not enough texture. A vague sweetness lost in a sea of pureed beans, a mouthfeel that called for more chew, more crunch, more something.
So I gave it another go—swapping in diced pineapple for crushed, trading some of the beans for mushrooms—and got closer. Still, though, there was a missing ingredient.
Then a coworker of mine made a suggestion: “It needs starchiness,” he said. “What about potatoes?”
But potatoes, in my opinion, are such a bore of a vegetable. I know I probably lost a lot of fans with that statement, but there’s just nothing to them. Very little flavor unless drowned in butter, salt, cream or ketchup, and not nearly as pretty as their sweet orange relative. So, in a move that shocked no one, I took a chance with one of those “mock” recipes that’s been circling the interwebs lately. No butter, no cream, more protein—a win-win-win, right?
And he was right. This chili and these mock potatoes? A match made in weird, unconventional, sweet-savory-smoky-garlicky comfort food heaven.
Smoky pineapple three-bean chili
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 bell peppers, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapenos, diced
2 15-oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes
3 15-oz cans beans of choice (I used black, kidney and pinto)
8 oz mushrooms of choice, roughly chopped
1 c water
1 c frozen corn kernels
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp paprika
1.5 tsp chipotle powder
2.5 tsp oregano
1 lb eggplant, cubed
2.5 c diced pineapple + juice
black pepper, to taste
hot sauce, to taste
Rinse mushrooms gently to remove dirt, then pat dry as possible with paper towels (this is key, as water + searing do not mix). Heat first tbsp olive oil in a shallow pan, then lower heat to medium. Sear mushrooms (in batches, if needed), adding just enough to cover the surface of the pan without the ‘shrooms stacking on top of each other. Flip occasionally until golden to deep brown in color, adding oil occasionally if mushrooms appear to be burning. Set aside.
Heat second tbsp olive oil in a stockpot, then saute onions until they begin to brown. Add bell pepper, garlic and jalapeno, cooking until softened (about 3 min).
Add tomato, beans, water, corn and seasonings (but not eggplant, pineapple or mushrooms). Bring to a boil, then simmer 20 min.
While chili simmers, cube the eggplant. Add eggplant, mushrooms, pineapple and juice, then simmer until squash is just tender, about 20 minutes. Check seasonings, add hot sauce to taste, and serve.
Garlic mashed “potatoes”
Barely adapted from Pickles n’ Honey
Serves 6-8 as a side
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
3 c cannellini beans, cooked and drained (about 1.5 15-oz cans)
scant 1/2 c vegetable broth (or water)
2 tbsp dried chives (or 1 tbsp fresh)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place 1-2 inches of water in a large pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Place cauliflower in a steam basket over the pot and cover, steaming until fork-tender (about 15 minutes).
While cauliflower steams, heat olive oil over medium in a small frying pan. Add garlic and cook until slightly brown. Set aside.
Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, combine cauliflower, garlic-infused oil, beans, broth and chives in a food processor or blender. Puree until smooth, scraping down sides as needed (this may require several stop-and-go sessions of blending and scraping). Season with salt and pepper, and serve.
Note: this recipe was submitted to this week’s Gluten Free Fridays.