It’s the little things.


Yesterday I made an enormous pot of vegetarian chili loaded with veggies and beans. I even roasted the last of the hot peppers from the garden. Between the roasting, chopping, sautéing and simmering I was in the kitchen for almost 2 hours. When I’m cooking for that long I listen to NPR podcasts to keep myself company. Yesterday I caught up on This American Life . It was a particularly hilarious program titled Fiasco! with 4 tales of events gone horribly and hilariously wrong. As I chopped and stirred and belly laughed alone in the kitchen it dawned on me how such simple things make me truly happy.

I don’t have a recipe for my chili, but here’s the gist of it. You can’t possibly go wrong even if you make a few wild substitutions.

  • 4 – 8 mixed hot peppers of varying heat (I used poblano, jalapeno and Anaheim)
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium to large onions, chopped (I used one red and one sweet)
  • 3 sweet red peppers, chop 2
  • 4 small summer squash, chopped (I used zucchini)
  • 2 heaping Tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 Tbsp cumin
  • 4 – 6 Tbsp good quality chile powder (I’m currently enamored with Penzey’s Chili 9000)
  • 4 large cans crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 3 cans dark kidney beans, drained
  • 3 cans pinto beans, drained
  • 3 cans black beans, drained
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Blister 1 sweet red pepper and all hot peppers under broiler turning as needed. When fully blistered, remove from oven, place in paper or plastic bag to steam. When cooled enough to handle, peel, seed, chop coarsely and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot and sauté the onions until softened and translucent. Add 2 remaining sweet peppers and summer squash sautéing until just softened. Add oregano, cumin and chile powder stirring thoroughly. Add canned tomatoes, roasted peppers and sweet potatoes and simmer for an hour or until sweet potatoes are cooked. Add beans, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to taste and simmer for a further 30 minutes. I like to leave the pot on the stove at a very low simmer for another couple of hours so flavors can fully develop.

Serve with big slabs of your favorite cornbread.



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