I’ll be honest, this one is a bit of a winter warmer and probably won’t be ideal over the (hopefully) hot summer months ahead. But, we are in the UK after all. And our weather famously spins on a dime. So, it can be blue heavens and scorching sun one day and grey, cataract skies with plenty of rain the next. This is exactly what happened to us last week, it got downright chilly… Or should that be chili? NOPE. STOP.
Chili con carne is a firm favourite across the nation, presumably down to its comforting nature and versatility. You can have it with a jacket potato, with rice, tacos – basically anything! But despite not being from a vegan family, bizarrely enough we have always made plant-based chili. Without even thinking about it. Growing up, I didn’t eat much red meat anyway, the chili would never have had beef. But my mother, even as an avid proponent of turkey mince chose to omit the meat. Consciously or not, I don’t know. For whatever reason, the chili is still fabulously rich and heartwarming and most certainly falls into the category of ‘pop the pan out with a flourish for immediate family excitement’. There really needs to be a word to describe that feeling, for it is one of the best in the world.
Going without the meat does bring in the need to add a little bit of texture to the dish – this is brought about through the different types of mushrooms which will also add a nutty flavour to complement the smokiness of the harissa. It is important to add the kidney beans only towards the end. They need to retain some of their bite, again to add to the wonderful wholesome texture of the chili.
I love to serve up this chili with plain quinoa. It’s especially good with a mix of different coloured quinoas, they add extra texture and visual appeal to the dish. If you want to go the extra mile, put out some tortilla chips and guacamole (recipe incoming!) for a true Mexican feast.
2 large onions, finely diced
2 medium red peppers (Or 1 large)
8 white mushrooms, cleaned and roughly diced
8 chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and roughly diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 hot red or green chillies, minced
10 cherry tomatoes, rinsed
100 g frozen sweetcorn
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1/2-3/4 tbsp harissa
1 tin kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Fry on a medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, until browned and soft. Add the peppers, diced mushrooms, garlic and chillies and fry for another 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms should have started to release their juices and become a little tender, but not cooked through. Add the cherry tomatoes and cover – leave to cook for around 5 minutes. Add the frozen sweetcorn and stir until the kernels appear to defrost – pour in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and stir to combine.
Add the harissa and bring the chili to simmer – cover and leave to reduce down, this should take about half an hour. Taste the chili to check, if you want more spice, add a little more harissa. Stir in the kidney beans and continue to simmer for 25-30 minutes on a medium heat to reduce down. Serve hot with mixed quinoa, rice or tortillas.