Bulgur Chili

Something that I’ve realized between all the eating and cooking I do, is that there is no one way to prepare anything. What you consider traditional cooking is not always the same for someone else. Whether it’s the guy across the street, or someone across the world, people eat with different cultures and backgrounds. I’m always interested in new variations of foods even if it’s not how I’d typically cook myself.

Chili is one of those dishes with infinite variations. Whether it’s with or without beans, has a certain meat, or reaches a degree of heat ranging from mild to charred esophagus. Everyone has a chili recipe and they’re all different. If I had to pick one, it might be this bulgur chili. Meat and bean free (though beans could easily be incorporated), this is not traditional chili con carne, clearly, because the carne is not here. Yet that doesn’t stop it from being everything a good chili should – filling, flavorful, and comforting. It might even ease you into the cool weather that is finding its way back to Vermont.

Bulgur, finely ground wheat kernels, creates a nice chewy, almost meat-like texture. But no one is trying to pretend there is meat here. And why should they? Bulgur provides a good amount of fiber, some protein, and an array of vitamins and minerals. Combined with late summer tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and corn, some onions and cheese – there’s no sense that this is lacking anything. You can try using other vegetables like squash, carrots or celery and add any kind of cooked beans. As with any other chili, this seems to get better in the next day or two, where I found myself snacking on it with tortilla chips.

Bulgar Chili

Makes: 6-8 servings  Time: about an hour, mostly unattended

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 hot peppers such as jalapenos (for a relatively mild chili)
3 cups chopped ripe tomatoes
1 small zucchini
3 ears corn sliced off the cob
1 quart vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup fine-medium grain bulgur
chopped cilantro (optional)
grated cheddar cheese (optional)

  1. In a large pot, pour in the oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add in the onions, both kinds of peppers, garlic, and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste until mixed in and cook for a minute or two. Add in the tomatoes, stock, chili powder, corn, and salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Bring to a boil and then lower down to a simmer. Cook, stirring every once in a while, for about 30 minutes – until thickened.
  3. Stir in the bulgur and cook for 10 minutes before turning off the heat and letting sit until the bulgur is tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Garnish and serve.

Black Bean Tacos, Two Ways

As I’ve said before: beans are amazing. Not only are they the most nutritious plant food out there, they’re also convenient and affordable. Beans are pretty much everything an Everyday Chef is looking for.

I think that black beans in particular make for an excellent taco filling since they hold their shape so well. I don’t like mushy beans and I’ve never had that result while cooking with these. At a few tasting events around Rutland this month, I prepared a black bean and corn taco filling. And at a cooking demonstration with Yvonne Brunot, she made black bean tacos with mango, peppers and avocado. Both were quick to prepare and tasted awesome. If you’re not a big bean cooker, here are two easy recipes to get you started.

Black Bean and Corn Taco Filling

makes 4-6 tacos

bbean filling

Saute 1 medium, chopped onion in 1 tbsp olive oil heated over medium heat. Let onions cook 3-4 minutes, until they start to become translucent. Slice kernels off of 3 ears corn. Add corn to onions with 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Mix in juice of 2 limes and 1 1/2 cups soaked (or canned) beans, drained. Let the beans simmer for another 5 minutes then throw in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Stir. Taste. Adjust seasoning as needed. Fill your taco, top with fresh, chopped tomato and whatever other fillings you like.

Black Bean Tacos with Mango and Peppers

makes 4 tacos

mangoavocadoandblackbeantaco

  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like oregano, cilantro, parsley or thyme
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped; or other locally grown peppers like jalapeños
  • 15 ounces prepared black beans, rinsed and drained or one standard sized can
  • 1 cup sliced, peeled mango
  • 1/3 cup cubed and peeled avocado
  • 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas, warm
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, herbs, salt, pepper, and poblano. Sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add beans; cook 1 minute or until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in mango and avocado. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Arrange 3/4 cup bean mixture in each tortilla. Sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Top with sour cream or salsa if desired and serve with lime wedges.

Spice Up Your February With Shakshuka!

During our fine Februaries, it is easy to tire of winter . . . and winter squash, potatoes, carrots, beets, and turnips–those once-exciting storage crops that have been sustaining us since November. If you’re finding yourself positively bored with your usual winter flavors–with no sign of spring in sight–try this remarkably tasty and wonderfully easy recipe for dinner one night.  You won’t be disappointed.

Shakshuka adapted from Epicurious.com

This dish comes out great with jalepeños, but I’ve made it without in a pinch, and it’s tasty that way too.  Good quality local eggs and feta will really make a difference here.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium or large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked until tender, or 1 15 oz can
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes, or a 28 or 32 oz can, crushed or whole and crushed during cooking
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely crumbled feta
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Warm pita bread
Preparation

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat*. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeños; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add crushed tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta evenly over sauce. Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 5–8 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Serve with pita for dipping.

*Since acidic tomato juices can damage the finish on your cast iron, try using an enameled cast iron pot or other ovenproof skillet for this dish.

(Leftover!) Turkey Curry

The Domestic Diva’s Curry goes together just like her soups, based on your personal preferences and tastes. Please use this recipe as a guide and add or subtract vegetables and spices as you see fit. The Domestic Diva’s Turkey Curry

  • 2-5 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2-2 inched of ginger, minced
  • 2-3 large onions, cut into medium pieces
  • 1-2 peppers, cut into medium pieces. Diva prefers colored peppers
  • 1/4-1 hot pepper, think jalepeno or thai chili, diced finely
  • 1-2 potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2-1 head of fennel and/or celeriac, cut into medium pieces
  • 1/2- 1 rutabaga or turnip, cut into medium pieces
  • 3  carrots, cut into medium pieces
  • Whatever other firm vegetables you have on hand.
  • 1-2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1-2 large cans of diced tomatoes
  • Meat, raw or cooked (optional)
  • Spices: cumin, coriander, curry, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, star anise, chili or chipotle powder, salt and pepper

Preparation Place onions and garlic in the stock pot with oil and cook until fragrant.  Introduce raw meat if desired. Cooked meat will be added later.  Add vegetables one at a time, allowing them to cook and begin to let go of some of there “flavor”. Until all vegetables are in pot and seasoned with salt and pepper.  Add one can of coconut milk and one can of tomatoes.   Add cooked meat if desired. If you are adding fish wait until later.  If you desire more liquid you can add more coconut milk and tomatoes, or water/stock, and if you have white wine on hand some of that.  Taste.  Begin to add the desired seasonings one at a time.  Taste after each addition.  Continue to add spices until your desired flavor has developed. Allow to cook on low, until all vegetables are soft. If using fish add it when the vegetables are done cooking and cook until the fish is done.   Serve over rice. Super easy, freezable, and a great way to use left over Turkey from the holidays!

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