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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bean & Butternut Chili with Quinoa

When Fall comes and the weather gets cool (or it snows in mid-October, as the case may be), I immediately crave a big pot of soup, stew, or chili. Anything that cooks slowly, fills the house with good smells, and makes enough to feed me for a week, getting better every time I reheat it. Yes, my friends, it's chili time.

Quinoa, beans, and loads of veggies means this is the kind of comfort food you don't have to feel guilty about. I used butternut squash in this batch because it's in season and the farmers' markets seem to be exploding with squash, but sweet potato would be fantastic. The red bell pepper gives the chili a hint of sweetness and loads of Vitamin C!

1 large red onion, chopped
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch rounds

2 ribs celery, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cubed
2 cups butternut squash (or sweet potato) cubed, about 1 medium squash3 cloves garlic, minced2 t. cumin
2 t. chili powder
1/2 - 1 t. red pepper flakes

1/2 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried cilantro/coriander

1/3 cup drinkable red wine

1 heaping tablespoons tomato paste

25 oz. (1 large can) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. (1 can) black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
28 oz. (1 large can) tomatoes (one big can, preferably whole San Marzano tomatoes)

16 oz. (2 cups) vegetable stock (half a box)
1/2 c. quinoa (or millet)

2 T. red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped cilantro
&/or basil


1. In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan, saute the onion, carrot, celery, and red bell pepper in olive oil until the vegetables begin to brown.

2. Add the cubed butternut squash, garlic, tomato paste, and spices. Saute for a minute or two, being careful not to let the garlic burn.

3. Add the red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits that might have stuck to the bottom.

4. Stir in the beans, canned tomato, and stock. Cover and bring to a boil.

5. Simmer on low for about an hour. Stir in the quinoa, cover again, and continue to cook over a very low flame for as long as you can wait. The longer the better... all day! (The quinoa will absorb some liquid and thicken the chili.)

6. Stir in the vinegar and lots of fresh chopped cilantro (or basil). Serve with a hunk of crusty bread!
* Non-vegans, stir in some shredded cheese or top your bowl of chili with a dollop of sour cream!

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