Nothing better than peanut butter

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Is there anything yummier than peanut butter? Any food more versatile? A cheaper protein source that pleases grown-ups and kids alike? For me, the answer is definitely no. We’re a peanut butter family. We all love it in sandwiches, on noodles with broccoli and tofu (another recipe on my blog), as a dipping sauce, on apples, celery… on a spoon… on my finger… I even prefer it over almond or cashew butter.

Another thing I love is when one of my favorite things to cook happens to be another person’s favorite thing to eat. My burritos are one of those items. And now, this chili is another. How could it not be? Because, PEANUT BUTTER.

Full disclosure, I adapted this from Elisabeth Rozin’s Ethnic Cuisine. As I’ve said before, it’s my all-time favorite cookbook. The original recipe called for ground beef, but I’ve made it vegan and way more awesome.

African lentil chili – serves 6-8

2-3 tbsp oil

1 lrg onion, chopped

2 lrg red bell peppers, chopped

2 Hatch green chiles (or other chile), halved and sliced

2 15-oz cans tomato sauce

1/4 cup barbecue sauce

2-3 tbsp (vegan) worcestershire sauce

3 cups frozen corn, roasted, if possible

5 cups cooked lentils, de Puy or other green/brown variety

1 tbsp Tabasco, or to taste

1 cup peanut butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Serving suggestion- serve over roasted sweet potatoes

Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil and onion, and saute for 5-7 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the bell peppers and the chiles, and cook, stirring, until soft. Add the tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, and worcestershire sauce. Let simmer for a minute, then add the corn. Let simmer until thick, and then add the lentils. Add the Tabasco and peanut butter, and let simmer until the desired thickness, about 5 minutes. Add the salt and pepper, to taste. Serve on top of roasted sweet potato halves.

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Chili con frijoles

I haven’t always been vegan. I’m certainly a better vegan cook than I ever was when I cooked with meat. Nonetheless, there were a few meat meals I made very well, most of which I’ve successfully and satisfactorily veganized; however, one dish remains: chili.

I’ve tried all the usual suspects. The tempeh, the highly processed veggie crumbles, mushrooms…. It’s not about texture for me, so seitan and tofu wouldn’t do. Chili made with ground beef has a dark, rich depth of flavor that I have not been able to master without the beef. But this chili is very good. Absolutely good enough to share with you. And I have more tricks up my sleeve that I’m going to try next.

One disclaimer: I am a native Californian. Chili in California most often has vegetables in it, and definitely has beans in it, even when it’s made with meat. When I was a kid, I remember seeing a can of chili con carne “without beans” on the shelf of a grocery store, and asking, “No beans? What’s in the can??”

Chili con frijoles

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • *2 frozen veggie burger patties, diced (optional)
  • 2 generous tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 28-oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups cooked navy beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, roasted (from Trader Joe’s, if you’ve got it)
  • Salt to taste

Preheat a cast iron Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil. Once the oil is shiny, add the onion, and let saute for about five minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients in order, chopping the whole tomatoes with your spoon,

Chili and fixings

Chili and fixings

stir well, bring to a boil, and then turn to low. Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve with fried onions, Tabasco, and corn bread.

*I used Don Lee veggie burgers from Costco, which are made of quinoa and veggies, and are good quality without many weird ingredients.