The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

A Large, Filling Pot of 101 Cookbook’s Vegetarian Chili

The weekend was so lovely that this morning, the hug to send my husband to work lasted a bit longer and I made a deeper sigh because I didn’t want him to go and the weekend to be over. I hope yours was just as grand.

I was on the verge of taking a break from posting, at the end of last week, but I took a step back and realized the main problem, the thing causing me the most anguish, was only a goal that I had invented for myself and not required by anyone else. I had to realize that what we were doing was not working and that we must come towards it in another way, one that will take more time.

This would involve the new design and functions of my ideal blog. Weeks went a little something like this: we would change one small thing and mess up 3 others by adding that one thing, then we’d research how to make that one thing work with the others, put those suggestions into place…to find ourselves in the same situation over and over again, causing a lot of aggravation, arguing and a “one step forward and 3 steps back” mentality. We’re starting over-we don’t have a choice. My header is different but a gamut of other things were supposed to be, so it’s a very small victory that I will gladly celebrate. Back to the weekend….

We saw our friends and their new beautiful baby boy, we ventured out (no longer in hibernation) around town for groceries and a look at the new spring items in stores. We had a great sandwich at Hogan Brothers, I got a new cookbook from the used bookstore and the weather (drumroll please)…the weather was near 50! We attempted to walk a few blocks around the outskirts of town but ran into a bit of trouble trying to maneuver the sidewalks (not maintained) with either a large puddle or stubborn snow piles lingering. Nothing a walk on the street couldn’t fix but it put a damper on the whole “winter is done” notion. The rain is coming over the next few days and will do away with all this snow. I might just do a rain jig if the temps stay near 50. It’s early March here in southern Minnesota and in the 40’s! I can’t believe it. This time of year doesn’t feel so bad now that I see San Fran’s temp is below 60 for a high today.

Last weekend, I made Heidi’s vegetarian chili from 101 Cookbooks. I have to say that I made the flavor base as stated but found it on the bland side-probably due to the large amount of fiber-rich ingredients like lentils and pearled barley. This made a humongous amount of soup that came in handy days later, after I adjusted the flavor to suit our tastes. I think she would recommend this and would be happy that it turned out so well. (She seems nice so I imagine she would be cool about it.)

Be sure to have extra quality broth on hand because the following day, or even later the day you make this, a large clump of lentils and barley will be staring back at you in the ginormous pot you’re going to need. Perhaps back off on the amount of fiber by lowering it to half for the lentils and barley. I think the chickpeas were a great call but if you aren’t a fan or have another bean, use them. I found it to be faintly spicy but I am a big fan of heat. If you are too, double the Serrano and chipotle amounts. I later added Tabasco sauce (it’s natural you know), which helped quite a bit for more flavor. Toppings also helped create more layers of flavor, shredded cheddar or feta with a few more dashes of Tabasco sauce really helped. Good base for chili but like other recipes, adjust to suit what you enjoy.

Vegetarian Chili with Lentils, Chickpeas and Barley

Vegetarian Chili with Lentils and Pearled Barley
Serves 12 large portions

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
8 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and grated
3 to 5 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 to 2 tsp cayenne pepper (I added this)
1 or 2 Serrano peppers, seeded and finely chopped
1 to 2 chipotle peppers (canned in sauce), finely chopped
28 oz. canned crushed tomatoes
a few dashes of Tabasco (I added the smoked version)
10 cups vegetable broth (good quality, plus 2 to 4 cups more for following days to thin)
14 oz. canned chickpeas
2 cups (or less) lentils (black, brown, or green), rinsed and picked over (less if you desire)
2/3 cup pearled barley (or double bulgur wheat)
2/3 cup bulgur wheat (or double barley)
sea salt/pepper
toppings of your choice (I used shredded cheddar, feta and more Tabasco)

In a huge stockpot over medium heat, add the olive oil, onion and shallots. When the onions are softened, add the garlic, ginger, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper. Stir and cook for a minute. Add the Serrano and chipotle peppers, tomatoes and 8 cups of broth. Add the chickpeas, lentils, barley and bulgur, stirring each well and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, until the lentils and grains are cooked through. You will most likely need to add a few more cups of broth. Taste the broth and adjust the salt to your liking. Serve with your favorite chili toppers.

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