You Better Stomp Around

August 31st, 2011 | Posted by Alison Spath in Dinner Time

I need to start digging through the blog archives more often.  I don’t know why I complain about not being able to come up with dinner ideas in advance.  It’s like owning a closet full of perfectly fine clothes and then stomping around and saying “I don’t have A THING to wear!”

Except I’ve got a website full of meal ideas and I stomp around saying “I don’t have ANY IDEA what to make!”

Time to stop stomping and start clicking, lady.

So clicking is exactly how I came upon Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili made with tempeh.  When I later found a brick of this caked, fermented soy product hiding under a bag of almonds in my deli drawer – that’s a little something I like to call unplanned dinner fate.

Or really it’s just an excuse to stomp around and say “I’m making TEMPEH CHILI tonight!”

I often make a quick and easy vegetarian chili with pinto and kidney beans, but tempeh definitely gives it a more “meaty”, traditional chili-like texture.  Plus it’s just a nice change of vegetarian chili pace from the standard beans, beans, MORE BEANS.

For Tempeh Chili, I start by cutting it into smaller chunks and then pulverize it in a mini food chopper.  The food processor would work here too, or even a fork and medium sized bowl with some elbow grease could do the trick.

Tempeh Chopped with Mini Food Chopper

Along with your pulverized tempeh:

2 Tbsp oil (coconut or olive)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 28 oz can of tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
1 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp sugar, agave or maple syrup*

If you want to put the “veg” in vegetarian chili, add any other vegetables you might have on hand.  A shredded carrot, zucchini, diced bell pepper; maybe a jalapeno to spice it up if you like some veggie heat.

Saute onions and garlic (and optional peppers) in oil. Once soft, add tomatoes, tomato paste and chili spices.

For chili spices, you can make it really easy and just buy a packet of chili seasoning.  I sometimes have them on hand, but once I started taking a closer look at ingredient lists, I found I had most of the spices used in chili seasoning already in my cupboard.

Chili Spices

Salt, tabasco, chili powder, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper – I add all seasonings to taste.  Throw in some cayenne pepper (carefully!) to spice it up if you have some – add it to the grocery list right after you take a picture if you don’t.

When I do use packet seasonings, I Simply Love the Simply Organic line.  But using your own spice mixture is cheaper and it can spare you the additives and preservatives found in more conventional prepacked seasonings.

For extra veggies, I went the shredded carrot route thanks to a freshly restocked carrot supply after grocery shopping yesterday.

Grated Carrot

*With recipes that have a tomato base, I sometimes find that I need to add a little sweetener like sugar, agave or maple syrup.  I’ve found that adding carrots can be a great way to more naturally sweeten sauce and can sometimes allow you to skip any extra sugar all together.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding a little water if necessary.

Top with shredded cheese, avocado, salsa, plain greek yogurt – any or all of your favorite chili toppings.

Tempeh Chili

We ate ours with corn on the cob as I added “avocado, salsa, plain greek yogurt” beneath “cayenne pepper” to the grocery list and stomped around and saying “Didn’t I JUST SHOP yesterday?!”

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