Beans, Carrots, Chickpeas, Corn, Dinner, Legumes, Lunch, Pepper, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian, Zucchini

Vegan chili

Vegan chili

This vegan chili is very filling and quickly made its way into our rotation of favorite dinners. It’s got protein from the beans and chickpeas, lots of vegetable and lots of spices. It’s very tasty and sort of sweet and doesn’t give you that heavy feeling some chili can. We get three dinners out of one batch so it’s a lifesaver during crunch time.

The recipe is based on the vegetarian chili recipe from Archie Moore’s, a small chain of American-style restaurants around New Haven. Most people go there for their wings but I almost always got a bowl of veggie chili. This is a vegan replica of that, the only missing ingredient being shredded cheddar cheese used as a topping. I eat the chili with tortilla chips so I find it filling enough without the cheese and don’t really miss it, but (vegan) cheddar cheese can be added as a topping. I like this adapted recipe so much, I was not even tempted to go back for the original the last time I visited New Haven.

I use a large 7.5 quart (7 liter) pot to cook the chili and it is much too big. The second largest pot I have, however, is 3.2 quarts (3 liters) and wouldn’t give me enough room to stir. A pot of any size in between should work well.

It takes a while to get all of the ingredients ready. To cut down on prep time, I get the onion, garlic, spices, broth, and tomato sauce ready before I begin and I prepare the rest of the ingredients while cooking. I chop up the carrot while the onion is cooking, I open the remaining cans while the sauce is cooking, and I chop up the remaining vegetables while the sauce with the legumes and corn are cooking. The zucchini and peppers do overcook when the chili is reheated, so if you’re making ahead, add them in when reheating, and simmer them for 15 minutes before eating.

My absolute favorite tortilla chips for this chili are multigrain scoops. They’re little edible spoons! And there’s something about the multigrain that makes the chili taste even heartier and tastier. These chips are very hard to find in my neighborhood so I order them online and sometimes they arrive in good condition and sometimes they arrive mostly crushed, so I don’t always get my first choice. Regular scoops taste too salty for me so my second choice is tortilla chips that are made in store in our grocery store. They’re thick enough to allow me to scoop up the chili, don’t have much salt, are very inexpensive, and remind me of homemade tortilla chips. Homemade tortilla chips are fairly easy to make from corn tortillas if you cut some tortillas up into triangle shapes and they are so, so good warm. But you have to have the patience and/or tools to fry them. I, for one, have never had this with homemade tortilla chips.

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Avocado, Beans, Dinner, Legumes, Lunch, Mushrooms, Quick, Vegan, Vegetarian

Black bean, mushroom, and avocado tacos

Tacos were actually our first successful home-cooked low-sodium meal two years ago. We licked our fingers clean and rubbed our bellies and patted ourselves on the back and have been making some version of them every one to two weeks since. This version is vegetarian and has our favorite source of vegetarian protein, black beans. It can easily be made vegan if you use vegan cheese or skip the cheese altogether.

We always use corn tortillas; they have much less sodium than flour tortillas. I prefer hard shell tacos and I fry mine in a pan with a little bit of oil. I have yet to perfect my method — I never seem to get the temperature and time ratio right — but they’re still always better and less likely to fall apart than store-bought hard shell tacos, even when I accidentally dry them out. The only constant I’ve noticed is that the fresher they are, the less likely I am to screw them up. My husband toasts his tortillas in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes. Check the tips section for more explicit instructions on how I heat them up.

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Avocado, Beans, Dinner, Lunch, Quick, Soup

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup)

Aztec Soup (Spicy Tortilla Soup) on alickofsalt.com

Here is a recent addition to our repertoire of favorite dishes that are quick to make. But first, a quick digression on my relationship with soup.

Soups are a huge part of my heritage. It’s the first part of every main meal. I didn’t particularly appreciate this custom growing up because, as picky as I am about food in general, I’m even pickier about soup. I was happy to eat it if it was made by my mom or grandma and even then, it couldn’t be just any soup. It basically had to be either strained chicken noodle soup with thin, homemade noodles or fresh bean soup with a tomato base.

And then I had a version of this soup in Nicaragua. It’s a tomato base soup with avocado and cheddar and, the best part, crispy tortilla strips. No, wait, the best part might be how quick it is to make.

It’s slightly tangy, likely from the tomatoes we use, and I’ve made it spicy enough to require some nose-blowing mid-meal. We add fried black beans for some extra protein because we have it as a single dish meal. Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and make it vegan by skipping the cheese.

Part of what makes eating this soup so fun to eat is that you continually replenish the toppings and can have crispy tortilla strips with every bite. I like letting some of the tortilla strips soak slightly, so parts are crispy and parts are soft. My partner like to eat them before they have a chance to soften.

We generally snack a lot during the day so eat relatively small meals. But serial snackers as we are, this soup that’s supposed to serve at least 5 people is only enough for two meals for the two of us.

A website update: I added a favorite tools section to the website which features some of our favorite kitchen things. The products link to the site where we bought them (or had bought from us from our registries). You’ll notice that currently everything that’s on there is from Amazon. That’s in part because I’m only an affiliate there, but in larger part because I actually do buy almost everything from them. They got me hooked, the tricksters, with a free prime account when I was a student living in a city that had no home goods stores within waking distance and I had no car. If you are a human (i.e. not a spam bot), feel free to suggest your must-haves on that page, and not just from Amazon. I look forward to any recommendations!

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