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Chili, Reinvented

Chili, Reinvented

While flipping through a recent issue of Runner’s World I came across a great article by runner and amateur cook Mark Bittman. Mark is the culinary mastermind behind the NYTimes‘ foodie blog Bitten, as well as the author of a dozen or so fantastic, simple, healthy cookbooks (check out How to Cook Everything as a starting point).

The article was titled, “Simply Good,” and discusses some of the basic concepts that Mark devised to change his cooking when his weight and health (and running) became issues in middle age. I was particularly intrigued by a very simple idea he put forth: use small amounts of meat to flavor healthier beans, grains and vegetables. As a former vegetarian, I like to cook meat-less dishes, but my VERY carnivorous husband does not quite share my enthusiasm for TVP! This seemed like a potential compromise.

With that in mind, I invented this recipe and gave it a whirl. I love roasted vegetables, so adding them to a simple mixture of beef, beans and tomatoes seemed like a good combo. It was DELICIOUS. Chili traditionalists may roll over in their graves at my impudent additions, but life (and chili) must move on. Try your own variations, and enjoy!

Roasted Vegetable Chili

Take half a bag of your favorite red beans and follow the soaking directions (for overnight or 1-hour quick soak). Drain, rinse and set aside.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut the following into bite-sized chunks:
1 medium crown of broccoli
1 zucchini
1 sweet potato
1 sweet pepper, the color of your choosing
1 yellow onion
2 large carrots
3 stalks celery
1 jalapeno pepper
(Adjust the veggie types to suit your own preferences. Yams, fresh corn, tomatillos, eggplant, fennel, parsnips, turnips, white potatoes, summer squash, butternut squash, etc.)

Toss the cut vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil and add salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Find your darkest baking pans/cookie sheets and spray them with cooking spray. Lay the vegetables in a single layer (DON’T CROWD THEM). Roast until brown and crispy on the edges, usually 30-45 minutes. Flip occasionally.


1/2 lb. stew meat or other inexpensive beef cut
2 T flour
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Mix the flour and seasonings together in a mixing bowl. Cut the beef into bite-sized chunks and toss in the flour until all of the seasoning mixture is stuck to the beef.

Chili base:
2 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 T chopped garlic
1/2 green pepper, chopped
14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 T Worcestershire sauce

Cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy in a large dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and pepper to the bacon and fat. When softened, add the beef and brown well on all sides. When beef is browned, add the tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, and pre-soaked beans. Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the good browned bits off it. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until beans are soft (1 – 1 1/2 hours). When beans are soft, add the roasted vegetables and more water, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Bring to a boil again. Adjust seasoning if desired.

Serve with grated cheddar cheese and sour cream on top. Would also be delicious over rice, or with jalapeno cornbread.

Posted by Jen