Cincinnati-Style Vegetable Chili


This is a vegetarian version of my Cincinnati-Style Chili.  (Vegan, actually, if you don’t put cheese on top.)  You can make it fat-free by omitting the olive oil, but you won’t get the flavor benefits of the fat-soluble elements in the chili powder or cumin.  This is the first time I have ever made it in a slow-cooker, and it was quite successful!  The beef version of this chili really does need high heat in the beginning to brown the meat and develop a fond, but the veggies did quite well simply simmering on low for about 8 hours while I went about my day.  The other change I made on this round was to use a can of crushed tomatoes instead of diced, which I think was a good change.

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  • 2 medium-large eggplant
  • 1-2 summer squash or zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can each red and black beans, drained
  • 1 28-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 2 oz bittersweet baking chocolate
  • to taste, roughly in order of volume from most to least: chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, cloves,  salt, pepper, cayenne (opt)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine everything except cilantro in a slow-cooker.  Set to low and cook for 8 hours.  If the chili seems too soupy, remove the lid during the last hour of cooking.  (If it seems like too much of the liquid has boiled off, add water.)  Add the cilantro during the last 30 minutes of cooking.

Serve over spaghetti topped with cheese.

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Dylan Report: HE LOVED IT.  I know “food is love” is a total food writer cliche, but there really is nothing quite like the feeling of serving something you love to cook to someone you love for the first time and have them practically licking their plate for more.  Especially when that person is a toddler in the midst of an obstinate independence phase and has not yet been socialized to lie and say they like something even when they don’t.  HE LOVED IT.  See Exhibit A below, the empty plate:

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