Black Bean and Quinoa Chili

This recipe comes from Anthony's wife, Michele; we're certain that some Texan is reading this and shouting, "Real chili doesn't have beans!" Point taken (see page 82). But whatever you want to call this, don't be intimidated by quinoa. This incredibly nutritious grain provides hearty consistency and a slightly nutty flavor that marries deliciously with black beans. To dress up this thick chili, serve it with an array of toppings, such as green onion, cilantro, and sliced avocado, and crumbled cotija or shredded Cheddar cheese.

Serves 10 to 12

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small or 1/2 medium-size yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped

1 poblano chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced

3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

3 cups vegetable stock (vegan, if desired)

3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain) or 1 (10-ounce) can Ro*Tel diced tomatoes and green chiles (for a spicier version)

2 cups frozen or fresh corn kernels, or 1 (15.5-ounce) can white hominy, drained and rinsed

1 cup dried white or golden quinoa

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, plus more for garnish

Thinly sliced green onion for garnish (optional)

Sliced avocado for garnish (optional)

Crumbled cotija or shredded Cheddar cheese for garnish (optional; omit for vegan)

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and chile and sauté until just beginning to soften, about 3 minutes longer. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and onion powder.

Stir in the stock, 2 cups of water, and the black beans, tomatoes, corn, quinoa, cinnamon stick, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a rolling boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender and the flavors meld, about 40 minutes. Using tongs, remove the cinnamon stick and discard it. Stir in the cilantro and serve warm with additional cilantro and green onion, and avocado and cheese, if desired.

BEANS IN THE CHILI

If you ask native Texans about chili, they will tell you (politely, at first) that it's only "chili" if it's all-meat and no beans. In order to not just be bean soup, some vegetarian chili recipes try to follow the logic of this tradition by using textured vegetable protein (also known as TVP, rather unfortunately) to mimic meat's taste and texture. There are other ways of "beefing" up the chili (see a quinoa version on page 81), but of course, this still leaves the issue of having beans. In fact, if you ask vegeTexans, like us, about real Texas chili, we'll tell you (politely, at first) that it's only "chili" if its all-beans and no meat.

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