Sunday, February 6, 2011

Almost Vegetarian Chili

I used to be what I called a Flexitarian. For four years most of my meals were vegetarian. No beef, chicken, or pork (although I did, on occasion, order a McDonald's Big Mac "hold the meat", but that's a story for another day). I was "flexible" and would occasionally mix in fish or seafood. Hence, the term Flexitarian.

If I had a $ for every time I had to explain that, it would pay for a week's groceries at Whole Paycheck. But if I had a $$ for every time I read/saw/heard a whacked out description of vegetarianism... well, I could probably put a hefty downpayment on a Prius!

The most recent (and egregious) example: Olivia's Language Arts workbook. It's a read-a-story-answer-some-questions kinda thing. She was reading an article about the merits of a plant-based diet. The article clearly stated that a vegetarian diet does not include meat. It then went on to explain the rich variety of options for vegetarians.

"Some eat dairy products, eggs, fish, seafood and poultry."

Wait ... WHAT?!? Since when do vegetarians eat poultry?

With this fresh in my mind, I kinda rolled my eyes when I saw the recipe Jason chose for tonight's meal: Robin Miller's Vegetarian Chili. Chili is a no-brainer for Super Bowl night. And vegetarian chili sounded delish. But ingredient #2 is 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth. Um, Robin... this isn't vegetarian.

We'd planned to use the veggie broth for a true vegetarian chili. But we had some wonderful stock left over from Saturday night's Perfect Roast Chicken ... so "Almost Vegetarian Chili" it is. (Is that like being "almost pregnant"?!?)


  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup frozen baby lima beans or regular lima beans
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeno (from can or jar)
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano or regular oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup couscous
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients but the couscous, shredded cheese, cilantro and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.

Five to 10 minutes before serving (depending on temperature of slow cooker) add couscous, cover and cook, until couscous is tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Just before serving, top each serving with shredded cheese and cilantro.


Chef Jason - Very easy. It's basically a dump and forget it meal. But really flavorful. Spicy, but not too much heat. And the couscous is so hearty you don't even miss the meat.

Tanya - It's a very flavorful chili. I was a little unsure about the couscous. But it's a nice addition.... for the first serving. As the couscous sits it swells up even more. We usually cook enough to have leftovers for lunch the next day. I'm a little worried that by tomorrow my left-over chili might be more the consistency of tapioca. We'll see!

Olivia - It was good. I liked the contrast of the cheese and the chili. Is that a good enough review, Mommy? I need to paint my science project.

Hannah & Miranda - Made Shells 'n Cheese from a box for themselves.

Afterall, there are two constants in our kitchen these days:

1. Hannah will balk at any meal where different foods touch each other



P.S. Want to learn more about Vegetarianism? This wikipedia entry is a great primer, including the history of vegetarianism, how different religions view it, and some of the health benefits of a plant-based diet.

P.P.S. We'd love to hear your favorite recipe for chili (vegetarian or not). Please share!


  1. Okay, this is definitely not vegetarian:

    1 package Carroll Shelby Chili Mix (includes chili spices, salt, red pepper, masa flour)
    2 lb. ground beef
    1 bell pepper, chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    1 can tomato sauce
    1 can whole kernel corn, drained
    Water as needed

    Brown ground beef and drain. Combine all ingredients except the masa flour and red pepper. Save the masa flour to thicken something else, and use the red pepper judiciously depending on your family's preference for heat. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for at least an hour, longer if you have time. Top with sour cream and shredded cheese.

    That was our Super Bowl dinner. I didn't get around to making jalapeno cornbread, so we had to make do with tortilla chips and cheese dip.

  2. Kathy

    That sounds wonderful. I love to try different chili recipes - we will put it in the mix and give it a try in a few weeks. Can you share your jalapeno cornbread recipe? I love cornbread and have been looking for a good recipe to try. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Jalapeno Cornbread

    1-1/2 c. self-rising cornmeal
    1 c. buttermilk
    2 eggs
    1/2 c. oil (I use olive)
    1 can cream corn
    1 c. shredded sharp cheddar
    2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large iron skillet with cooking spray and stick it in to heat when you turn on the oven. Combine all ingredients and pour into hot skillet. Bake for 35-40 minutes. This makes a lot of cornbread, so you can either halve the recipe or enjoy the leftovers, which tend to get hotter overnight.