Kitchen Curious: A meaty chili without the meat

Even carnivores will appreciate Four Alarm Three Bean Chili from “Wait, That’s Vegan?!” by Lisa Dawn Angerame, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019. CONTRIBUTED BY ALEX SHYTSMAN

Unlike fans of true Texas chili, who don’t include beans in the chili party, I’m perfectly content adding pulses to the mix. I don’t use pounds of ground chuck, but I do tend to throw at least a bit of meat in the pot, for both body and flavor. Otherwise, it’s hardly chili and more like a thick bean soup.

When I flipped through the pages of Lisa Dawn Angerame's newly published "Wait, That's Vegan?!" (Page Street Publishing Co., $21.99) and spotted Four Alarm Three Bean Chili, I was curious to see whether her protein-rich plant-based version tasted as good as a bowl fit for carnivores. It does.

Three kinds of beans — black, kidney and pinto — bring a nice bite and a bit of color. So do chunks of bell peppers and carrots. But the terrific depth of flavor is due to a blend of seasonings, including unexpected ones like cocoa powder, cinnamon and nutritional yeast.

Don’t be deterred by the long list of ingredients. If you have a well-stocked pantry, you most likely have everything on hand to whip up this wintry comfort dish. If not, don’t make an extra trip to the store; substitute spices as you see fit (a few spoons of the liquid from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce can substitute for the chipotle powder) or just leave it out.

Angerame tops her vegan chili with an avocado mash (mash an avocado with a thinly sliced scallion, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt); sour cream made with cashew cream, lime juice and salt; and toasted pumpkin seeds. I garnished mine with avocado slices, Tofutti dairy-free sour cream, and vegan cheese. The chili was satisfying enough without any of those toppings, but why not pile them on? After all, if it’s chili, it’s a party.

Four Alarm Three Bean Chili

Four Alarm Three Bean Chili
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • A few big pinches of salt
  • 2 carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1 cup cooked kidney beans
  • 1 cup cooked pinto beans
  • 1 cup frozen or canned corn
  • 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Heat a big pot over medium-low heat and add the oil. When it is shimmering, add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapeño, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the carrots and bell peppers, and saute for 5 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Add the nutritional yeast, chili powder, coriander, Mexican oregano, cumin, chipotle powder, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Stir around to coat the vegetables. Add the tomato paste and use a wooden spoon to mix it around, cooking it for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the beans, corn and tomato sauce to the pot. Add the water to the can and swirl it around so that you get the rest of whatever is left and stir it into the vegetables.
  • Bring to a high simmer, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until everything is seasoned and heated through. When the chili is done cooking, add the lime juice.
  • If desired, serve the chili with avocado slices or guacamole, sour cream or a dairy-free sour cream, such as Tofutti, toasted pumpkin seeds and lime wedges. Serves 4.
  • Note: A can of beans yields about 1 1⁄2 cups, which is more than this recipe calls for. But don’t waste them; freeze them for up to 3 months.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, without toppings: 351 calories (percent of calories from fat, 13), 18 grams protein, 62 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams fiber, 5 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 976 milligrams sodium.

Reprinted with permission from “Wait, That’s Vegan?!” by Lisa Dawn Angerame, Page Street Publishing Co. 2019.

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