Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vegan Quinoa & Sweet Potato Chili

I've been a vegetarian all my life, and never tasted meat (of any kind) until I accidentally bit into a pork egg roll at a Thai restaurant a few years after college.  (For the record, it was delicious and yes, I finished it.)  However, even as a vegetarian I enjoyed a few animal products such as cheese, eggs, and milk. 

As a result of my obsession with nearly everything dairy, the term "vegan" has always scared me.  I once bit into a vegan chocolate cookie riddled with carob chips assuming it was real chocolate and was so severely disappointed and surprised I had to spit it out.

In recent years, though, "vegan" has come to be a widely popular buzz word in foodie land, and no one knows that better than those of us who live in the greater Portland, Ore., area.  Over the years I've come to acknowledge that vegan doesn't have to mean gross; I've had plenty of vegan meals that were blow-me-out-of-the-water amazing and I've even made a few myself.

These days I'm not so skittish of the idea of cooking or eating without dairy products in my food, and I am so glad because...all of this is to say that I may have been turned off by the name of this recipe in a previous life, and I hope if you've made it this far into my blathering post you'll keep reading and discover the delicious combination of ingredients that is this amazing chili.


2 cans black beans (or make your own from dried - you'll need about 30 oz)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
4 cups vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 cup dry quinoa

Avocado, cubed
Cilantro, chopped
Non-dairy sour cream

Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium low heat.  Add onions and cook until soft and browning (about 10 min).  Add garlic and cook for 2 additional minutes; add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the beans, stock, and potatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add quinoa.  Continue cooking for about 15-30 minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked through, and the chili has thickened.  (Add water if the chili becomes too thick for your liking.) 

If desired, top with avocado, cilantro, and/or non-dairy sour cream.

NOTE: This can also be done in the crock pot; simply toss everything in and cook on high for 4-5 hours.

Do you have a favourite meat-free chili recipe?

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