EDITOR’S NOTE: Vegetable Chili adapted from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 zucchini cut into ½ inch dice
2 eggplant (use only the long slender light purple Asian variety), cut into ½ inch dice
2 onions, cut into ½ inch dice
2 large red bell peppers, cored and cut into ¼ inch dice
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons good quality chili powder (I prefer the San Antonio chili powder found in the bulk spice section of Central Market)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seeds or powder
1 can (35 oz.) Italian plum tomatoes with their juice
1 ½ pounds ripe plum tomatoes, cut into 1 inch dice
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Red pepper flakes to taste (about ½ to 1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
1 can (15 oz.) dark red kidney beans, drained
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas (garbanzos), drained
½ cup chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 scallions (green onions), white bulb and 3 inches green, sliced on the diagonal
1) Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and nicely brown and caramelized, 5-7 minutes. Transfer zucchini and eggplant to a plate.
2) Heat remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in the Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté until just wilted, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
3) Reduce the heat to low and add the chili powder, cumin, and fennel and stir one minute or until fragrant. Add the canned tomatoes and their juices, the cooked zucchini and eggplant, the fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt and parsley. Cook, uncovered, stirring often, for 30 minutes.
4) Stir in the kidney beans, chickpeas, and dill; cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, stir well, and adjust seasonings to taste. Server with bowls of sour cream, grated cheese, and sliced scallions alongside.
I use a third of the oil from the original recipe and added red pepper flakes for some good heat. I also add eggplant when it’s available from my garden. Be sure to use only the milder, slender, light-colored Asian variety. They are less bitter, and you don’t have to remove the skin. I also consider the fresh herbs optional as they deliver very strong flavors, especially the dill.
Don’t hesitate to make this recipe your own by trying other vegetables, beans, and herbs.