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from scratch

Vegetarian Bean Chili From Scratch

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

Have you ever looked up close at a bean, in its uncooked form?

Beans are pure beauty. They’re definitely one of my favorite single ingredient items to photograph, and while their cooked appearance isn’t quite as pretty, it’s hard to deny that a big bowl of chili in the wintertime is a beautiful thing, too.

Dried Beans

This particular chili recipe is destined for a hungry crowd. I whipped this up last weekend before a cookie-making session with some friends. The intention was to void off an overloaded sugar consumption in exchange for sustenance instead. (It worked. Sort of.)

If you’re not trying to feed a large crowd, simply share some of the extra with your freezer. The chili will hold up well, and will be the perfect pal to call upon the next time you’ve got corn bread coming to visit.

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

When it comes to this recipe, and why it’s worth making in a jumbo-sized cauldron so you can feed your whole village (or freezer, or entourage of friends), the secret’s in the dried beans.  Yep – those beautiful guys I mentioned earlier.

Starting from scratch creates a flavor level you just can’t replicate with canned beans. If you have a pressure cooker, it won’t take much time at all, either. This isn’t some chili-on-the-stove-all-day kind of recipe. My stomach rarely has time for that.

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

This has plenty of spice, too. In fact, feel free to slightly cut back on the cayenne, if spicy isn’t your thing. It’s not overbearing here, but you will notice a slight kick. Most notable, though, is the chili powder. Yet, even with all that chili powder, the taste of those dried-turned-extra-soft beans shines through. It’s a beautiful thing. Kind of like that beam of sun catching my colander down below.

Dried Beans

 

Top with all of your favorites – avocado, cilantro, maybe even a dollop of salsa and yogurt or cheese. And serve alongside either that corn bread I mentioned before, or a bowl of brown rice with some tortilla chips on the side. That’s a kind of hearty meal that’ll make winter feel alright. And your friends warm and content.

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Tacos with Refried Beans from Dried Pintos

Soaking dried pinto beans

A lot, a lot of taco nights go down in my house. Tacos are easy. Beans are cheap. And it’s hard to go wrong with a bunch of flavors wrapped up into one. Plus, any excuse to pull out a few avocados is a welcomed one.  The phrase “holy guacamole” didn’t come from nowhere. I mean, we all know guacamole is holy in every sense of its being.

Vegetarian tacos

Generally I make my own guac, but on very rare occasions I’ll just pick some up at the store. However, I always make my beans from scratch, if that is what’s to be at the center of the night’s tacos. (Sometimes I opt for ingredients like butternut and goat cheese instead.) Refried beans are incredibly simple to whip up and are truly better than any pre-made versions at the store. There’s something about the freshness you get from doing it yourself…kind of like most things you do yourself. But with refried beans, it’s particularly noticeable.

If you want to really take the homemade superiority to the next level, start with dried beans.

Soaking dried pintos

As opposed to pre-cooked ones in a can, dried beans let you go through a simmering process that really cooks them down and makes them all creamy inside. Then, you get their juices to pull back into your saute process, which makes the whole refried bean mixture that much creamier. The two steps required for this are painless and are totally worth the bit of waiting time required. (Don’t tell anyone, i.e. my landlord, but I let my beans slowly simmer on the stove while I jetted out for a run. My apartment survived.)

Last weekend I hosted a taco night, which is where this was born. This year’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations looked more like Cinco De Mayo, and I’m 100% okay with that. The sentiment of cooking up a huge pot of beans for a night with friends is always a warm one. And I mean really, what’s better than a taco night with your pals or your family, especially when everyone’s put in charge with crafting their favorite ingredient? Add fresh mint mojitos (not the Tecate that we were surviving off of) and a few board games to the table, and it’s hard to think of a place I’d rather be. I’m already ready for the next one.

Given this was for taco night, the following recipe is designed to serve a crowd. However, it could easily be cut in half for taco nights with less people. Just whatever you do, don’t cut the guacamole from your topping list!

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