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pinto

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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Savory BBQ Tacos with Avocado

Vegetarian BBQ Tacos

Like a sunny Saturday, an avocado must never be wasted. Sure, a few brown specks are okay. But you let one sit too long, and you instantly become a fool.

Unfortunately, a fool I have been, many times over. Beneath the glorious bowl of oranges and bananas sitting on my windowsill, I’ve had one too many avocados bury themselves to death. Not good. That luxuriously creamy flesh does not come without a price. And it doesn’t help that this price seems to be stuck on a ski lift forever going up. The sight of $2 per avocado makes me feel anything but warm inside.

However, I will still subject myself to make the occasional splurge every now and then so I can scoop that golden green onto my taco. I’m convinced it’s well-worth the guessing game at the store of choosing the one that won’t be bruised, or the waiting game for the green-skinned one to finally become ripe. One thing is for sure though. Now that avocados are more of a luxury than ever, there’s no way they’ll be slipping into any sort of brown mush from biding their time on my counter.

What does all this avocado talk have to do with this recipe? Well, you see, I bought the avocado listed below to make tacos – a regular occurrence in my kitchen. Cumin, coriander, garlic and onion are my staples for a pinto bean filling. But you also have to have the toppings, avocado being one, along with salsa, lettuce, and maybe some cheese and/or sour cream. I had none of those on-hand except an avocado that was quickly headed past its prime. What I did have was all of the ingredients to make a saucier, BBQ-styled filling, which in my mind, goes just as well with avocado and tortillas.

This was an avocado-saver, and a delicious weeknight meal. I don’t like my BBQ sauces overly sweet, especially in tacos, so these BBQ’d beans err more on the savory side. However, they still have that tomato tang you’d want and expect, and just like standard tacos, help create a package full of flavor. With all the tacos I eat, it’s definitely nice to have the change of pace.

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Autumn Pumpkin Chard Chili

When the pumpkin bug finally hit me, the results were glorious – these Pumpkin Pie Muffins were a huge success. Ever since their departure from the oven, I had been antsy to get my hands on some more of the puree. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one with this desire on my mind.

I swear, the pumpkin bug is just like the flu. Around this time every year, it spreads like an orange wildfire, and almost always I encounter a shortage at the grocery store. No more PUMPKIN!? What an autumn dilemma. How’s a girl supposed to experiment with pumpkin in everything from chili to hummus without a steady supply at my disposal?

If I were still in my school days, I’d hop my butt over to the closest farm patch and get my hands slimy with a fat, fresh ol’ jack-o-lanterm. (If you’ve never roasted one, the pumpkin seeds alone are totally worth the effort.) But those days are gone and my free time seems to be too.

Luckily, I still find time to stalk the grocery store. Perhaps if I ditched my grocery store hobby I’d have more free time…but then I wouldn’t be around for restock day. My last pumpkin purchase led me to this chili, which is given a nice creamy heartiness from the seasonal ingredient. The chili itself gets a full-bodied flavor from its heavy load of spices, complimented by an earthiness from the chard. That being said, don’t expect the pumpkin to be the star flavor here, although I could definitely picture actual pumpkin chunks or butternut squash as a nice addition to this dish.

Instead, as I said before, the pumpkin lends an element of richness to this dish—one that happens to be incredibly fiber-filled, fat-free, and packed with vitamin A. Like most chili, this makes a great tummy-warming meal for a crisp autumn day, and the pumpkin only adds to that feeling.

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