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.
This is part of a series on how our food can help certain organs that resemble their same shape. I already shared with you how carrots benefit the eyes, how tomatoes and grapes benefit the heart, how walnuts are essential for brain health, how celery and other stalky veggies are great for bone health and how beans are super beneficial for “kidneys”??? Yep…
Japanese Sweet Potatoes Photo Courtesy of AnniePickns's Blog
Sweet potatoes are a great source of beta carotene, due to its orange color. This means it’s great for keeping ourselves young. Because of its elongated shape its beneficial for our pancreas…
But what I really think it means is how some studies have shown that sweet potatoes can help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance. It actually helps the pancreas do its job… And steamed/cooked sweet potatoes seem to make more available these blood-sugar effect benefits.
Here are a few recipes with sweet potato you can try soon:
Sweet Potato Pastelón
Fried White Sweet Potato
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions
Sweet Potato Flan
There are two kinds of sweet potatoes – white sweet potato and the orangy sweet potato we call batata mameya. Most Americans are familiar with the orangy kind, which I believe can also be called yam.
The white sweet potato, or batata blanca, is much sweeter and versatile than its mameya counterpart. I really like it baked in the oven, which is a very traditional side dish to eat at BBQ rotisserie chicken stands. But my grandma also used to make it for us fried… it’s a nice alternative to a plantain tostón or french-fries…
FRIED WHITE SWEET POTATO
1 white sweet potato, peeled and sliced thin
Canola oil for frying
- In a large skillet, pour about ½” of oil… heat it at medium-high heat.
- While the oil heats up, prep the sweet potato… I peel it using a vegetable peeler because I am not too good peeling using a knife. The sweet potato will start to get dark after being exposed to the air a few seconds. Don’t worry, it’s normal and it will not change the texture or taste of the sweet potato.
- After you’ve peeled and sliced the sweet potato and the oil is hot enough… start frying. The sweet potato will take a while to fry because of its moisture content… but with patience, it will cook on the inside and get crispy on the outside. The thinner you slice the potato, the faster they will cook and the crispier it will be. They should be golden brown, without any burned spots.
- Drain them onto a plate with paper towel and sprinkle with some salt if you want… I usually do not salt them.
I know this is not exactly a potato, but I wanted to add a new recipe to my Potato Festival collection. In English, it fits. In Spanish, it does not (Pastelón de Batata Mameya). It’s delicious and super easy in either Spanish or English, so here it goes…
SWEET POTATO PASTELON
1 medium sweet potato or batata mameya – washed, peeled and cubed into 1″ slices
1/2 tomato – chopped finely
1/2 onion – chopped finely
1/4 green pepper – chopped finely
1 tbs butter or margarine
2 tbs Parmesan cheese
Extra-virgin Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a medium pot, place sweet potato cubes, almost cover with water, sprinkle with some salt. Cover and boil until fork tender. This should take about 15 minutes.
In a small skillet, pour about 1tbs olive oil and sautee the onions and peppers. When they’re starting to turn soft, add the tomatoes until everything is soft and cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
Drain the boiled sweet potatoes and return to the hot pot. Add the butter, Parmesan cheese and mash until smooth with a potato masher.
Transfer mashed sweet potato to a glass baking dish sprayed with canola oil. Spread it evenly. Now, pour the sauteed mixture of onions, peppers and tomato on top of the mashed sweet potatoes.
Place in a 350 degree oven so the sweet potato compacts a bit and the flavors meld. For about 10-15 minutes. It’s just for melding the flavors, because everything is basically cooked.
Serve with a simple salad for a nice supper or light lunch.
And if you’re in a hurry… just serve the mashed sweet potato and spoon the tomato/onion/pepper mixture over it. It tastes just the same.
This is a recipe to dissipate any myths that good desserts can only be made with eggs. This is an egg-less flan full of flavor and smooth texture.
I use the sweet potato with an orange-colored flesh, which are also called yams. In Spanish, or at least in Puerto Rico, we call these “batata mameya”. I included some pictures for reassurance. These, I find, are tad less sweet than the white sweet potato.
SWEET POTATO FLAN
1 medium sweet potato, baked - about 1 cup of baked flesh
1 carton evaporated milk
1 can condensed milk
1 pack of cream cheese – you can use 1/3 less fat version
2 tablespoons vanilla extract or vanilla powder
3 tablespoons cornstarch
strip of lemon rind or grated lemon zest
3/4 cup brown sugar – for caramel
- Bake the sweet potato in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. I encourage you to do this ahead of time. Just cut the ends of the potato, pierce it with a fork all around and bake.
- After baking, remove the flesh from the skin and mash it well with a fork.
- Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
- Place brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix a bit of water and carmelize about 10 -12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix in a blender or food processor the baked sweet potato flesh, milks, cream cheese, vanilla and cornstarch. You’ll also mix in the grated lemon zest, if using. If using a piece of lemon rind, don’t put it in yet. If you feel the blender is too full, just mix the milks first. Take some out, blend the sweet potato with the remaining milks and then put it all together. It will fit.
- Drizzle the caramel in a glass dish and twirl making sure you cover the whole bottom of the dish with caramel. Careful if using a metal baking dish… the caramel is hot and heats the metal FAST.
- Pour flan mixture on top of the caramel.
- Drop in the piece of lemon peel.
- Place baking dish in a water bath.
- Bake in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. You’ll know it’s done when the top is browned and a knife or wooden skewer comes out clean.
- Take out of the water bath and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
- When ready to serve… Release over a dish so the caramel side is on top.
If you rather make a traditional vanilla flan, just omit the sweet potato and only use 2 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch.