Texans might disagree, but not all chili needs to be slow cooked. And for that matter, it doesn’t even need to include meat in order to be filling and satisfying. Yes, that’s right and this chili, from Williams Sonoma is proof of that beans and potatoes can be just as satisfying, if not more so, than meat.
I have always been partial to both sweet potatoes and black beans. The potatoes are sweet and earthy yet mellow and hold up well in stews and soups. I’ve also been known to eat a baked one as a meal unto itself which makes them the perfect base for this chili. And the black beans are mellow and add protein and body to the chili. Be sure to adjust the amount of chili powder and cayenne pepper as needed since some are hotter than others. Whatever you do, don’t omit the avocado, it both tempers the heat and adds a refreshing balance to the entire dish.
SWEET POTATO & BLACK BEAN CHILI
1/4 cup olive oil
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
Avocado slices for garnish
- In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
- Add the sweet potatoes and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the sweet potatoes are slightly soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
- Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, then add the black beans, tomatoes and vegetable stock.
- Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Cover the pot and cook the chili, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
- Remove the lid and continue cooking until the beans are soft and the chili is thickened slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Top with the avocado and serve immediately.
How do you make a pot of chili even more comforting? Top it with cornbread then bake it until bubbling! This recipe, from Food 52, does just that, turning a warm and spicy stew into a one dish casserole that is sure to please everyone. And unlike many chilies, it doesn’t require long hours of slow cooking. The entire dish is actually quite simple with chicken, beans and corn simmering along with spices in a tomato broth. I’ve used all black beans in my version but you can use different beans or even a combination of beans. Use whatever you like or have on hand. The cornmeal topping is essentially polenta and this simple topping makes the dish feel like a complete meal.
This is so good and so satisfying. And as I discovered, it tastes even better when reheated the next day for lunch. You might even want to double the recipe!
CHICKEN TAMALE PIE
For the filling:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can sweet corn, drained
1 4-ounce can green chilies
1 12-ounce can diced tomatoes
For the topping:3/4 cup yellow cornmeal1/2 teaspoon salt2 cups water1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- In a large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers.
- Add the cubed chicken, garlic, coriander, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Cook until chicken is browned on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add chopped onion to the pot and cook down until soft and fragrant.
- Add beans, corn, chilies, and tomatoes.
- Bring mix to a boil and allow to cook and thicken. After the mixture has thickened, stir in the chicken and cook until heated through.
- Remove chili from heat.
- In a small pot, heat water and salt over medium high heat to almost boiling.
- Stir in the cornmeal and continue whisking while it incorporates the water and thickens, about 5 minutes.
- When it is thick, add the butter and mix in to melt. Remove from heat.
- Pour the chili into a deep casserole dish then spread the cornmeal mixture evenly over the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is firm and slightly browned.
- Allow to cool briefly, and then scoop into bowls to serve.
Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best. And when they are also fast and delicious, they are even better. Thus is the case with these tangy black beans. And while I love the flavor and texture of black beans when I have soaked, cooked and rehydrated them myself, sometimes using canned ones is a life saver. You know; when you have carefully planned out the protein and vegetable portion of your dinner yet need to add something else to the plate. Well on those nights I turn to my stash of canned black beans and make this dish. It is easy, tasty and the entire family digs right in.
SPICY BLACK BEANS
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 14 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet set over medium-high heat.
- When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and shallot and saute until lightly golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the drained black beans to the skillet then stir in the cumin, salt and pepper.
- Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally but taking care not to crush the beans.
- Off the heat, squeeze the lime juice over the beans and stir to combine.
- Serve immediately.
I love black beans. In Albania they were virtually impossible to come by and when I could find them they were always dried. I have nothing against dried beans, in fact I prefer them on most occasions. However, some times it is nice to have canned ones on hand since they are just so easy to use. Case in point this spicy black bean soup adapted from Epicurious. If you have the time and plan ahead, by all means soak and cook your own dried beans. If not, open a few cans and you can have this warm and comforting black bean soup on the table in no time. Serve it with double corn and thyme cornbread or thick slices of roasted red pepper bread and dinner is served.
SPICY BLACK BEAN SOUP
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapeno chilies, chopped with seeds
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 15-ounce cans black beans, undrained
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
8 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat.
- Add the onion, green chilies, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, coriander and salt. Saute until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
- Add the beans with their juices and the broth. Bring the soup to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. At this point you can reduce the heat to low and allow to sit for up to 1 hour.
- Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, if you prefer more texture, you can puree up to 3 cups of the soup and allow the rest to remain chunky.
- Adjust the seasoning in the soup if needed and serve topped with the chopped cilantro.
A lot of soups are quick to make; within a half hour or so you can have a steaming bowlful of soup goodness on the table. This is not one of those quick soups. Making this soup entails several steps– from baking the chicken to the two lengthy simmers of the broth, this soup takes both time and planning before it can be brought to the table. But trust me when I say that all of the effort is worth it. Yes, it is really that good.
The recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman but I have made a few minor changes including reducing the amount of servings that the soup makes to better fit the size of my family, their appetites, and yes, my small refrigerator. (Leftovers are great but there has to be room on those tiny European sized shelves to store them). I increased the amount of bell peppers from the original recipe since my usually vegetable adverse little boy loves peppers. And because we like things spicy in my house, I added an additional tablespoon of chili powder to the spice mix. So plan ahead and make this soup; serve it up with a side of corn bread and dinner is served.
CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups hot water
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons cornmeal
2 corn tortillas, cut into uniform 2 to 3 inch strips
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl.
- Drizzle one tablespoon of the olive oil over the chicken breasts and sprinkle a small amount of the spice mix over both sides of the chicken. Reserve the remaining spice mix for later.
- Place the chicken breasts on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is done.
- Allow the chicken to cool slightly then shred using two forks.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat.
- Add onions, red and yellow peppers and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix.
- Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
- Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
- Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
- Adjust the seasonings.
- Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.
Craving Italian? Or Mexican? How about both? These easy baked shells bring together the best of both cuisines; the spices of Mexican food stuffed into pasta shells that are reminiscent of baked Italian pastas. The recipe is adapted from Center Cut Cook is easy and guaranteed to fulfill your food cravings. So bake up a dish of these shells tonight. They are delicious as is but make even better leftovers the next day. Its like getting two meals for the price of one.
MEXICAN STUFFED SHELLS
1 pound lean ground beef
3 tablespoons taco seasoning (I like Penzeys‘ Bold Taco Seasoning)
20 jumbo shells, cooked according to package instructions
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups salsa, divided
Crushed corn chips, for garnish
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Evenly distribute 2 cups of the salsa into the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch casserole dish. Set aside.
- Cook the shells in boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
- Brown the ground beef in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to break up larger chunks of meat. When the meat is no longer pink, drain off any excess fat.
- Add the taco seasoning and 2/3 cup of water to the meat. Stir well and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the water has reduced and the sauce has thickened. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Stir in the cream cheese, 1 cup of the shredded cheese and the black beans. Stir to combine.
- Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the meat and bean mixture and place in the prepared casserole dish. Continue in this manner until you have used all of the shells.
- Drizzle the remaining salsa over the top of the shells then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the shells are bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the crushed corn chips over the top of the casserole and serve.