7 Jan 2010

When its cold outside ... bean & vegetable chilli

When its cold outside, and it is very cold outside today, a warming one pot meal is just what I fancy both to cook and eat. Something that can sit and simmer on the hob all afternoon, and tastes even better the day after. Following the gluttony of Christmas I'm craving healthy, warming, fresh and nutritious food and this mixed bean and vegetable chilli ticks all the right boxes. I love the fragrant flavours of fresh bay leaves and garam masala in this dish along with my favourite good quality Spanish smoked paprika.

It can be served with fluffy rice, spicy couscous, homemade wedges, creamy mash, crispy mini jackets or anything else you fancy! Last night I ate a bowl of chilli with couscous topped with plenty of fresh coriander and natural yoghurt.

Mixed bean & vegetable chilli
Serves 4

1 large onion, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp garam masala
2 fresh bay leaves
1 large dried chilli
1 red pepper, medium dice
1 green pepper, medium dice
2 small carrots, finely sliced
2 medium potatoes, medium dice
4 fresh tomatoes or 1 tin of plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
500ml vegetable stock
1 large tin of mixed beans
1 small bunch of fresh coriander
Natural yogurt, creme fraiche or sour cream

Note: If garam masala isn't available use ground cumin instead, and if you don't have any dried chillis use 1 tsp of dried chilli flakes or 1 tsp of cayenne pepper.

In a large pan add a good glug of olive oil then add the onion, garlic and spices. Cook gently on a low heat for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Meanwhile peel, wash and chop all the vegetables into similar sized medium chunks then add to the pan. Season well and cook for 5-10 minutes before adding the tomatoes, tomato puree and vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Drain and rinse the beans then add to the pan and continue to gently simmer uncovered for a further 10-15 minutes. The chilli should have reduce to a thick rich sauce without the vegetables and beans starting to disintegrate, more liquid can be added if it becomes too thick or it can be simmered for longer to reduce further.

Before serving remove the stalks from the fresh coriander and finely chop then add to the chilli - the stalks are full of flavour! Wash and roughly chop the coriander leaves and use to garnish along with yogurt or sour cream and dust lightly with paprika.

I have used tinned mixed beans in this recipe as it's nice and easy. If you're making a larger batch you can use several tins of different beans and I sometimes add sweetcorn too. If using dried beans soak overnight to rehydrate before cooking or refer to packet instructions.

This is the kind of recipe which can be changed and adapted depending what you have lying around in the fridge or freezer. If you keep the spice and tomato to vegetable ratio roughly the same the flavours will remain true to this recipe. Vegetables which could be added or used instead of the above include courgette, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, sweetcorn, green beans, sweet potato, squash and many more.

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