Happy National Chili Day! I absolutely love chili. I love the spices, the variety of topping choices, and—since I am vegan—the fact that it constitutes a well-balanced meal filled with protein. Every year for the Super Bowl, I make my own chili from scratch. Most people think it’s difficult, but all you are really doing is throwing everything into a pot. The spices are key, especially cumin, and when I make it myself I can customize the chili to my taste.
The tradition of making chili actually arose from my mom’s chili-layered dip. Using a baking pan, she would spread chili evenly over the bottom and then layer it with sour cream and a healthy portion of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. The dip is then baked until the ingredients are hot and the cheese is melted. However, due to my vegan lifestyle, while I follow the tradition, I focus my attention on making a delicious chili topped with avocado, chopped red onion, pickled jalapenos, and sometimes my own vegan sour cream. While Super Bowl Sunday comes only once year, I crave the dish on a regular basis.
Fortunately, I work at the Skirball Cultural Center and am able to enjoy the vegan chili that is served at Zeidler’s Café whenever I’m at work! Zeidler’s chili is perfectly seasoned, has the precise bean-to-liquid balance, and I can get any toppings that I want. The recipe even contains some meatless crumble, which makes the chili even heartier. Lucky for us, I was able to get my hands on the recipe, which is posted below. I plan on cooking the chili for the first time tonight in order to truly celebrate National Chili Day.
(Makes 6–8 hearty servings)
1 12-oz. can vegetarian chili beans
1 12-oz. can vegetarian black beans
2 12-oz. cans vegetarian pinto beans
12 oz. marinara sauce
24 oz. tomato juice
1 lb. meatless crumble
⅓ cup diced bell peppers
½ cup diced onions
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
¼ tsp. cumin powder
½ tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. thyme, chopped
1½ tsp. paprika
2 bay leaves
- Sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add garlic, but do not let it brown.
- Stir in all beans, meatless crumble, marinara sauce, and tomato juice.
- Stir in all spices.
- Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Serve with your choice of toppings.
- Place leftover chili in plastic containers and cool in an ice bath. Keep refrigerated.