Many of us are resolving to begin the new year with healthier diets. I have resolved to serve more vegetarian and vegan meals to my family this year and forever. Today happens to be National Bean Day, so what better meal to serve than a smoky, spicy chili with some special and beautiful beans?
I recently discovered the beautiful Vaquero beans from Rancho Gordo. For those of you unfamiliar with the brilliant products offered by Rancho Gordo, it is a Napa, California company owned by Steve Sando, who is dedicated to preserving heirloom beans from the New World/Latin America.
Vaquero beans, also known as Orca beans, are a playful black and white, looking to me like a cow. Rancho Gordo describes them as a cousin to the Anasazi bean. They’re fun to cook with, because even after cooking and giving off an inky pot liquor, they maintain their dappled markings. They're perfect for a meatless chili suitable for cowboys and cowgirls, and safe for cows, too. If you have trouble obtaining these lovely beans, pinto beans make a fine, though less exciting, substitute.
I serve this cow-friendly chili with cornbread, natch, and in keeping with my vegan, plant-based theme (sure to be unrecognizable by Texans), I am using an excellent recipe from Isa Chandra of the PostPunkKitchen.
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Smokin’ Hot Vegan Vaquero Chili
8 oz dried Vaquero beans, soaked overnight
1 14.5 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes
1-2 chipotles in adobo, finely diced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 bell pepper, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne
5 cups water
salt to taste
optional garnishes: chopped cilantro, shredded cheese
1. After beans have been soaked, drain from soaking liquid and set aside.
2. Prepare all vegetables and fry in a heavy pot with a tablespoon of canola oil. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes until vegetables have softened.
3. Add cumin and cayenne and fry for another minute.
4. Add beans, tomatoes, water and oregano, and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until beans are soft.
5. Add salt to taste.
6. Ladle into bowls and top with garnishes, if desired. Serve with cornbread (recipe follows).
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from The Post Punk Kitchen, by Isa Chandra
Makes 12 to 16 squares
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 cups soymilk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350, line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soymilk and the vinegar and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt).
4. Add the oil and maple syrup to the soymilk mixture. Whisk with a wire whisk until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve warm or store in an airtight container.
-Linda, Spicebox Travels
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