A few weeks ago my Serious Eats Water Cooler group issued a challenge… let’s make CHILI!!!
I am not a chili girl at heart, as my introduction to chili was Wendy’s chili with meat and beans. Never a fan of beans, therefore never enchanted with chili.
Wanting to partake in the chili challenge, I decided to give a stab to a vegetarian chili recipe. Mixing my Puerto Rican root vegetable “roots” with a few Mexican flavors, this vegetarian chili recipe is hearty and filling like a sancocho but with a nice spicy kick from the salsa verde. This is certainly something you can adjust to your taste.
In regards to the chili debate – beans vs. no beans – this is certainly a bean-less chili that I hope will satisfy the most avid bean eater too. Enjoy…
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
One large Yukon gold potato, peeled and cut into cubes
One white sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into cubes
1 tbs sofrito
½ large green bell pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup whole kernel corn, I use frozen
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 1/2 cup water
½ of a can salsa verde – I used Herdez brand
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garnishes, such as crumbled cheese, chopped green onions, sliced avocados, lime wedges)
- Heat the oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, vegetable cube and sofrito. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and sweat until the onions are tender, stirring often to prevent browning, about 8 minutes. Mix in the cornstarch. Add the corn, the water and bring the chili to a simmer.
- Place the green bell pepper in a processor and mix with the salsa verde. Blend just until smooth. Add the sauce to the pot.
- Cover and simmer the chili 30 minutes, until the potatoes, sweet potatoes and parsnips are tender and the chili is reduced to a thicker consistency. Season with more salt and pepper if desired.
Stuffed peppers are definitely one of my favorite clean-the-fridge meals. I tend to make these recipes a little bit different each time because I work with all the little bits and pieces I have in my fridge. I use mostly left-over rice as a filling, but orzo pasta, quinoa or even couscous work deliciously here. I have even used left-over butternut squash risotto from a large party, added a few extra veggies and made stuffed bell peppers for a crowd after my sister’s baby shower once.
However, the other day I purposely made a conscious effort to think of what I would put in. I am in a blue-cheese kick lately ,so I wondered how would my beloved stuffed bell peppers would taste using gorgonzola as the main cheese. I know I already loved them filled with goat cheese… so this would be a nice twist if successful. And successful it was.
BLUE CHEESE STUFFED BELL PEPPERS
1 large bell pepper – I prefer yellow, orange or red for this… but a green one will do also
1 cup cooked brown rice
½ medium onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped finely
1 small carrot, chopped small
1 small tomato, chopped
3-4 white button mushrooms, chopped
3 large handfuls of baby spinach or any other hearty green lettuce
2 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup gorgonzola crumbles
½ cup walnut pieces or almond slivers
¼ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded for topping
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, onions, garlic and carrots. Season with salt and pepper lightly and sauté for a few minutes for the onions and carrots to soften.
- While this cooks, cut the bell pepper in half and clean the insides of all ribs and seeds. Set aside.
- Add the mushroom pieces and cook for a few minutes. Add tomato pieces and cook for them to release their juices.
- Add the spinach and mix together so it wilts. Season with salt and pepper to help the spinach release its juices.
- Remove from heat. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Add the cream cheese and gorgonzola. If you feel the mixture is a bit stiff, add a drizzle of olive oil to soften it.
- Add the walnuts or other nut you might have handy.
- Fill generously each bell pepper half with rice/cheese mixture. Top with some shredded cheese to make a nice cheesy crust on top.
- Place the pepper halves in a baking dish and cook in a 425F oven for about 25-30 minutes. The filling is already cooked but this will cook and soften the pepper outside.
Serve alongside a crisp green salad and dinner is served!!!
I have a new favorite supermarket, Plaza Loíza. It’s what the call locally, Cash & Carry, but lately they have awesome produce. I love that when I do groceries there, I can fill up a few bags of groceries and only spend $30, while at Grande 24hrs I can spend the same amount and only have 1 small little bag with me. Amazing…
The other day Plaza Loíza had bell peppers on sale. All bell peppers, regardless of their color – green, red, yellow or orange – all were at $1.99/lb. If you’re a fan of bell peppers and live in PR, you’d know this is a bargain. You can find the green ones at this price, but reds, yellow and orange too!!!! Very difficult to find…
Now that I had these peppers, I wanted to do something special with them. I found a recipe for braised bell peppers in an old Cooking Light cookbook. Of course I changed it a bit to make it in a smaller quantity and to make good with what I had in the pantry. It turned out so delicious I decided to share it with you…
BRAISED BELL PEPPERS
About 1 tbs olive oil
2 tsps of sofrito
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 ½ onions, sliced
A pinch of anise seed
1 tbs of tomato paste
1 cup of water
1 tbs ume plum vinegar
1 tbs fresh basil – or you could use freeze-dried too
Salt and Pepper to taste
- In a skillet with tall sides over medium heat, add the oil, sofrito, pepper and onion strips. Season with salt. Sauté for a few minutes for the veggies to start to become soft. Add a pinch of anise seeds.
- After about 10 minutes of cooking, add the tomato paste and mix well with the peppers/onions. Add the water and mix it all well. Bring to a boil. When it does, lower the heat and partially cover. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes, or until peppers are soft.
- After peppers are soft, stir in basil and vinegar. Add pepper. Turn of the stove and cover. Let the heat from the pot and stove finish melding the flavors together.
I used ume plum vinegar, an Asian-type vinegar and it tasted really delicious. The vinegar tinge was there, but much subtle.
I always wanted to make my own vegetable stock… but I was inspired when I read about a year ago that someone had made a roasted vegetable stock to give added body to an Onion Soup. I have wanted to make a vegetarian version of Onion Soup for a long time too. Why a vegetarian version? It’s onion soup… no? In case you were not aware, onion soup is made traditionally using beef stock or beef consommé – making it unsuitable for vegetarians.
So based on the idea that if you roast something in the oven it concentrates its flavors we got our hands dirty and made home-made roasted vegetable stock. It’s simple; it just has a lot of ingredients and takes a little while.
ROASTED VEGETABLE STOCK
2 medium carrots, cut into large chunks
2 medium onions, quartered
4 stalks celery, cut into large chunks
2 medium zucchini, cut into large chunks
2 bell peppers, green or red, roughly chopped
1 leek, washed well
1 large shallot, cut in half with skin on
2 garlic heads
A bunch of flat leaf parsley
Salt and Pepper
1 tbs Herbamare seasoning
1 cup crushed tomatoes
12 cups of water
4 bay leaves
½ cup balsamic vinegar
- First we need to roast the vegetables to make the stock… so pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
- Place all the cut veggies (carrots thru parsley) in 2 baking sheets. I tried to fit them all in one, but they were too much for my baking sheets. Drizzle them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper generously. Sprinkle the Herbamare too. Using your clean hands, toss all the veggies until they’re well coated with the oil and seasonings. Try to add as little oil as possible, because if you add too much oil now, it will make your stock oilier later on.
- Roast in the oven for approximately 30-40 minutes, turning the vegetables once during cooking. Try for the veggies not to get too dark.
- When the vegetables are done roasting, transfer them to the largest, deepest pot you have… I had to do this in two batches because I do not own large enough pots.
- To the roasted vegetables in the mega large pot you’ll add the water, the tomatoes, bay leaves and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the flavors are extracted into the water.
- Let the stock cool down a bit so you can safely handle it. When it is cool enough, strain the stock using a large colander over a very large bowl. I suggest you strain the stock again using a fine mesh to make the stock as clear as possible.
Now you can store the stock in a bowl for use in the very near future or you can transfer to freezer bags and freeze in 1 cup or 2 cup increments to use later when making soups or risottos.
This yielded me about 10 cups of stock. I used about 9 cups for the French Onion Soup and saved the rest for future use.
Easy to do and the flavor is spectacular.
Tell me honestly… what did you think when you read this is a recipe for a roasted potato and pumpkin salad? Something like the traditional potato salads drenched in mayo and seasonings?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the traditional potato salad, but this week I was in the mood for something fresher. To add the roasted potatoes and pumpkins to a fresh green salad and dress with a light vinaigrette… that’s something more summery!!! I added the pumpkins because I wanted a little variety and that sweet flavor. Plus, I had a big piece in the fridge and I didn’t want it to spoil on me.
This might work perfect for your 4th of July picnic or backyard BBQ.
ROASTED POTATO AND PUMPKIN SALAD
4-5 baby red skin potatoes, washed well and quartered
1 cup of pumpkin, peeled and cubed
1 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1 tsp Herbamare seasoning
Fresh Baby Spinach - or a mesclun greens mix
Sweet Bell Peppers – red, orange and yellow ones, cut into thin strips
Mustard Vinaigrette Dressing
- Pre-heat oven to 400° F.
- In a roasting pan, toss together the potatoes and pumpkin pieces with the olive oil, salt, pepper and Herbamare seasoning. Toss together until well coated. Roast for about 30 minutes, turning the potatoes/pumpkins once, until the skins are golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave them there for a few minutes.
- In a salad bowl, combine your fresh salad components – spinach, tomatoes and bell peppers. You can add ANYTHING you want here in your salad. I’m just giving you what I ate and shows in the picture. Add the potato and pumpkin pieces and toss with the vinaigrette.
I guess this idea would also work with roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, sweet plantains or parsnips too. A nice twist on the typical salad or potato salad…