Vegetarian Chili Your Way

Hello everyone, Jess here.  

Today I am in the process of assisting my friends Elizabeth Almeida and Christine Berthold over at Fresh Start Food Gardens with some video editing. They are currently prepping to bring an organic garden to every school in Westford. Hopefully, this will bring them closer to their mission –  a garden in every yard in Westford! I am pretty blown away by these two ladies and all they’re accomplishing this year. I am most grateful to be living in a place with a rich concentration of local food crusaders. I am even more grateful when I get to join my fellow farmers in the crusade from the other side of the farmstand counter.

With all going on including parent/teacher conferences, meetings, karate classes, piano lessons and the like, dinner had to be not only pretty hands off, but also meatless.  I decided to dip into the pantry and the chest freezer a little to make a veggie chili.  

My veggie chili is more of a tip or method than a recipe.  There is a basic spice formula I follow, and the veggies are totally negotiable.  I like onions, tomatoes, beans and corn as a base.  After that, it’s fair game.

Tonight I sauteed 2 diced onions from the CSA pickup this week, then into the pot went some of my diced red and yellow heirloom tomatoes and corn (both frozen from the summer CSA).  A can of drained black beans joined in as I was out of Baer’s Best Beans (if you see them at the farmstand, do pick some up, they are great!)  I can’t live without the beans in veggie chili, mainly because it’s good to round out your complete protein by pairing beans with the corn.  I threw in some poblano and jalapeño peppers from the summer CSA swap box (which I had dehydrated and frozen, respectively).  Finally, my last brick of acorn squash puree stood in for any broth or liquid I might have otherwise added to the mix. Savory mushrooms are absolutely great in this type of chili, and had I not already eaten all of mine, you’d see them here.                                                                 

imageHere we see the slow and low simmer of veggies along with the spices. Aside from the yellow heirloom tomatoes, this chili contains the very last of my frozen acorn squash puree, which adds a nice creamy sweetness.

Here I left the jalapeños whole, allowing for the overall chili to remain mild, and then one could take or leave one on their plate depending on the preferred level of spiciness

Directions for basic veggie chili:

Place your chili pot over medium heat before adding a bit of oil.  (1 tsp to 1 tablespoon, depending on how many veggies you’ll be sautéing)

Add the vegetables that you want to sauté, starting with the ones that take a while (such as onion, garlic, carrot, and peppers). As things start to soften (about 3 minutes), add those that need less time in the sauté, such as zucchini kohlrabi or mushrooms, (but not tomatoes just yet). Saute for another 5 minutes.

Next, add your spices.  The basic spice ratio I follow is 2-3 parts of chili powder to 1 part cumin. (i usually start with 2 tablespoons of chili powder and 2 teaspoons of cumin, and add from there as needed.)  Once I’m in the basic ballpark for flavor, I adjust for spiciness by adding in about 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  

Finally, in go the tomatoes, beans (rinsed and drained), corn and squash puree.  If your veggies are not giving off a lot of water, having veggie broth on hand to add is a bonus.  In this case, between the frozen veggies and the puree, there was enough liquid to disregard the need for broth.  

Give everything a simmer for about 20 minutes or so and again add spices to taste. 


A little heavy on the corn tonight, but when it’s local corn, we don’t mind!

I love the versatility of chili.  Tonight I served it over brown rice and topped with cheese.  Tomorrow it might go into tortillas with a bit of sour cream, or atop a baked potato.  Hope you like experimenting with this one and making it your own. 

About Jess

Jess Anderson is the creator of CSA|365 and is passionate about the local food movement. A long time member of Springdell and a busy mother of two, Jess loves keeping her family fed by honest local food.