I love beans.
I feel withdrawal if I haven’t had beans in a week, and those pangs lately led me to re-discover a jar of gorgeous dried Jacob’s cattle beans (local, from Maine) that I bought at Whole Foods a little while ago (I don’t often go to WF, but when I do it’s to stock up on great bulk items!). I decided to make a chili-like stew with them and some equally lovely dried chickpeas that were calling to me from the pantry.
Jacob’s cattle beans and chickpea friends, cooked and ready to go
NOTE: I’m purposely not calling this a bonafide CHILI recipe because I feel there’s a lot of expectation and judging that goes along with that distinction. This is not my chili recipe, like one I would bring to a cookoff or something. It’s just a stew thing that I made up on the spur of the moment. With beans. And veggies. And some chili-like flavors. :)
When I make beans, I usually either add them to an already established stew or soup, or I make a pot of beans that is meant to stand alone. With this concoction I decided to do something in between, so I called on some outside inspiration for process ideas. I ran across Kathy Patalsky’s vegan chili recipe (I just found her site recently and it’s a great resource for healthy, creative vegan!) and used that to inform the tomato-chili base piece that was missing from my repertoire for this dish. I also took inspiration from my favorite black beans recipe from Elise Bauer (of Simply Recipes), that utilizes citrus and rice vinegar to add a flavorful kick.
Citrus-Chili Bean Stew
Cooking the beans ahead of time was the longest step in this recipe! It’s quite easy and it’s so flavorful that you’d swear it simmered on the stove for hours. Enjoy!
1-2 TBS olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 cups other veggies, diced (it’s really up to your tastes and what you have on hand, but I used 1 orange bell pepper, 2 medium rainbow carrots-1/4 inch dice, 1 stalk celery, 1/2 cup cremini mushrooms)
1 cup greens, chopped (I used spinach, but if you use a heartier green like kale, I would add with the other veggies at the beginning)
2-4 cups liquid – any combination of veggie stock/broth, reserved cooking water from the beans, and water (amount depends on your consistency preference… and I didn’t pay enough attention to how much I used)
3-4 cups cooked beans (I used Jacob’s cattle beans and some chickpeas, but could use any variety or combination – about 2-3 cans, drained and rinsed, if not using dried beans)
1/4 cup orange juice
juice of 1 lime (1-2 TBS)
zest of 1 lime (optional)
2 TBS rice vinegar
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (divided – I added some to the pot at the end and used the rest for garnish)
1-3 green onions, sliced (optional – for garnish)
1 TBS olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 medium-large tomatoes, peeled and diced (or 1 can diced tomatoes – could use liquid in tomato base)
2 TBS tomato paste (it could take more, but that was all I had…)
2 TBS chili powder (I over-compensated here because I didn’t have any whole peppers to use… 1-2 chilis in adobo would work great!)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more/less, depending on your taste)
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (next time I’ll try some fresh ginger for even more kick!)
1-2 TBS nutritional yeast (I add it to just about everything – good for you and adds a nice mild flavor and cheesiness)
1 TBS vegan barbecue sauce
Heat oil in soup pot on medium, and add all veggies (except for tender greens like spinach). Saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add enough broth/cooking water to just cover veggies, cover, and simmer until vegetables (especially carrots) are tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add garlic. Saute about 2 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic, then add tomatoes and the rest of the tomato-chili base ingredients and enough liquid to simmer it on low to a bubbly thick sauce (10-15 minutes). Add tomato-chili base, beans, and spinach to the soup pot with the tender veggies, and more liquid (if needed) to reach desired soupiness. Simmer together until you’re ready to serve (whatever works with your schedule – I think I let the flavors mix for about 15 minutes while I prepared my garnishes and taco accoutrements). Just before serving add orange juice, lime, vinegar, and some of the fresh cilantro, then adjust spices as needed. Serve with extra cilantro, green onions, and cheese – vegan or not, depending on your tastes.