Vegetarian chili comes to mind when I consider the ubiquitous vegetarian menu items of the world, right along with tofu scrambles and veggie burgers (both of which I have on this site). That doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing. Or eating. I was a huge fan of Whole Foods’ vegetarian chili long before I went vegan. Same goes for Curly’s tofu scramble, which I used to order with their vegan pancakes (also wheat-free) when I went for brunch, because I couldn’t decide which I wanted more. Who said vegans can’t enjoy a good brunch? (Oh wait, I think I said that at some point on this blog….and I maintain that it’s true in most eating out situations, when forced to venture into non-veg friendly territory).
In fact, vegetarian chili is such a no-brainer go-to dinner, I should be making it more often. The problem is, much like muffins, I have this “thing” with chili. I can never really get it just right. I’ve made dozens I’d hoped would eventually become part of the Delectably Free family. And most of the time, when I’m making something destined for this site, I don’t stop until I’ve gotten it right (often to the detriment of my loved ones, who have to endure days on end of semi-edible versions of the same dinner or dessert). The problem with chili, though, is that one batch pretty much lasts multiple days — sometimes a week, even — and by the time it’s over the thought of making yet another batch of chili is simply incomprehensible and utterly scary (there are only so many times we can blame the curious odor in the room on the dog). So, usually, I leave it at that.
But, after two years of intermittent trial and error, my mental list of do’s and don’ts finally yielded a blog-worthy recipe. I’m not usually one to praise my own food. Perhaps out of fear or maybe even pride, I usually wait and let others’ reactions dictate whether I am going to post something or not. I rarely declare something “a winner” without a vote of confidence from my taste-testers. But after tinkering with and tweaking this latest batch, I made sure to tell everyone in the family that I had hit on something “really good,” without really caring what anyone else said. But just for the record, I’ll have you know what everyone else in my family liked it, too.
3-Bean and Mushroom Chili:
Don’t be discouraged by the long ingredient list. I promise, most of these are pantry items, with the exception of maybe the mushrooms and the bell pepper. I used Bionaturae jarred strained tomatoes for the “strained tomatoes,” though I’m sure crushed tomatoes would work here as well. When I was younger, my mom used to make chili often and we’d serve it over elbow noodles. I love chili with cornbread (the classic combo), but decided to serve gluten-free noodles with this version and encourage you to do so as well. It’s really good! Finally, the 6-cups of baby bellas will cook down to what seems like a piddily amount, so definitely add the full amount — it really makes a difference in the overall taste.
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
6 cups baby bellas, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup strained tomatoes, no salt added (see note, above)*
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
½ cup water
1 15 0z. can black beans, not drained
1 15 oz. can aduki beans, not drained
1 29-oz. can white cannellini beans, drained
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon agave nectar (any other syrupy sweetener would also do)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1. To a large soup pot or Dutch Oven, add onion, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Toss to coat with oil. Cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until juices release and onions become translucent.
2. Add remaining ingredients, beginning with the diced tomatoes, strained tomatoes and water and finishing with the agave, olive oil and cider vinegar, plus the additional teaspoon of salt, or enough salt to taste. Make sure not to strain the aduki or black beans, as the juices add flavor to the dish. But do drain the Cannellini beans. Partially cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer on medium-high for about 15-20 minutes to let flavors develop. Serve warm with gluten-free noodles, corn chips or cornbread. Enjoy!
* If you can’t find salt-free strained tomatoes, instead of adding the second teaspoon of salt simply add enough to taste.