September 27, 2009

EnviroMom Meatless Supper Club: Northwest Vegetarian Chili

One of my favorite online reads is EnviroMom, a blog by two Pacific Northwest women about the little and big steps they're taking to green their daily lives. On more than one occasion they've gotten me re-thinking my usual approach to something (like birthday parties).

Now EnviroMom has gathered a group of bloggers (including me!) who will post once a week for eight weeks about a meatless dinner our families ate--or, rather, whether they ate it. Todd and I have tried to do vegetarian dinners several nights a week for years now, a decision tied up in a lot of intersecting values, including living simply (sometimes out of necessity and other times out of choice) and concerns about the environmental and social impact of our diets. We've never made the jump to a full vegan or even vegetarian diet. (For mostly selfish reasons--we really, really like meat. And cheese. And eggs. And ice cream.)  But it's one small way we try to live out our beliefs.

We had a solid set of vegetarian recipes that we used. Then we realized that our daughter is allergic to cow's milk protein. And suddenly any cheesy, creamy vegetarian dish wasn't going to work for our household anymore. So now we're on a quest for kid-friendly, dairy-free, meat-free meals that also make the adults in the household happy.

This weekend we made a vegetarian chili, one we've dubbed Northwest Chili because it includes an item held in great esteem by many in these parts: beer. Also because all the veggies in it are grown around here (and are in season right now). But mostly the beer.

The results: Two big thumbs up from the adults. The beans made it very filling. It was a success with the kids, too. Our preschooler actually complimented it, unasked. We strained away the broth for the toddler; she ate everything except for the beans. (She refuses to eat most all beans, so that wasn't surprising.) Our sides were corn bread and a tossed green salad (gotta use up those CSA produce box greens!) The corn bread was probably the highlight of the meal for the kids.

The verdict: A definite keeper. Filling, fairly quick to prepare and, except for the zucchini, it uses ingredients we usually have on hand year-round. It made enough for two meals for us.

Recipe below the jump!

(adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T canola oil
2-14.5 oz. cans stewed tomatoes
OR (if you have a little more time and some fresh veggies on hand)
3.5 c tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped into large pieces
3 T onion, chopped
3 T green pepper, chopped
1 T celery, chopped
1 t sugar
dash salt
1 c water
12 oz fine Pacific NW microbrew (or any alcoholic/non-alcoholic beer)
8 oz. tomato sauce
3-4 t chili powder
1 t ground cumin
1 t dried oregano
1/2 t ground pepper
3-15 oz. cans beans (pinto and/or kidney beans), rinsed and drained
1.5 c summer squash or zucchini, chopped
1.5 c corn kernels, fresh or frozen

Cooking instructions:
Saute garlic in hot oil for 30 seconds.

Stir in undrained canned tomatoes, beer, water, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano, ground pepper and beans.
OR (if using fresh tomatoes): Combine tomatoes, onion, green pepper, celery, sugar, and salt. Bring to boiling; simmer, uncovered, for 10 min. Stir in beer, water, tomato sauce, chili powder, oregano, ground pepper and beans.
Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 min.

Stir in corn and zucchini/squash. Cover and simmer for 10 min. or until vegetables are tender. Top with your favorite chili toppings (we like cheese and cilantro).


Deb Cohler said...

Perfect timing - I am making chili tonight! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Huh. If I could get my hands on a micro-brew right now I would not let it anywhere near a cooking pot! ;) One thing we miss by living overseas...
The chili looks good.
I had to reformat my hard drive this summer (ok, not me personally) and I've lost the password to your protected blog. Would you mind resending it to me? email:

MondayCampaigns said...

Vegeterian Chili is an awesome meatless meal. So filling and satisfying! Thanks for the recipe, I'm also a huge fan of a good PNW micro-brew :)
If you are looking for more meatless ideas for your 8 week trial check out our recipe page at We post new meatless meal options every Monday! ~VP

Rebeccah said...

Yay, recipes! We eat a lot of vegetarian stuff at home, the Mister being a huge softie when it comes to all living creatures (me, I love a good burger from time to time). And of course we heart PNW microbrews! Can't wait to try this.

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to try this recipe since you posted it but its hard to justify cooking for just me. This weekend I finally tried it out on my (meat loving) boyfriend. LOVE IT. He didn't even complain about the lack of meat.

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