Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegan White Chili

The Midwest has gotten blasted by cold air (again!) this week. We're seeing highs in the single digits (gasp!) before the wind chill for the first part of this week. This seemed like the perfect excuse to make a hearty chili. A while back I purchased some white chili blend from Pendery's Spices, but I hadn't experimented with it. Chili generally feels heavy to me--but I know it'll feel even heavier when the weather starts getting warm again.

The basic recipe comes on the chili-blend package and calls for chicken. I use seitan instead. You can make your own seitan--there are a lot of recipes available on the internet, or you can buy a mock chicken product. There are many varieties of mock chicken products out there and in this recipe, I use one made by White Wave.

I keep telling myself one of these days, I'll make seitan. But then I keep telling myself one of these days, I won't be a poor, time-crunched student. Maybe.

You could also make this chili gluten-free by increasing the number of beans and withholding the seitan altogether. Seitan is made from vital wheat gluten and therefore can't be given to people with wheat or gluten intolerances/allergies.

My vegan version of white chili(double everything, if you want) is below:

Vegan White Chili

1/2 pound baby lima beans (or other small white bean), soaked 6-8 hours or overnight and then cooked, according to package instructions, approximately 1.5-2 hours, depending on the type of bean you use.

While the beans are cooking, prepare the rest of the chili:

3 tablespoons olive oil, vegan margarine, or a combination
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 4-ounce can drained, chopped green chiles
2-3 fresh jalapenos, or to taste, chopped*
4 ounces seitan
1/2-1 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, depending on how thick you like your chili
1.5 tablespoons white chili blend
Freshly cooked brown rice, quinoa, or wheat berries

Heat the oil in a medium pan, over medium heat. Add the onions and saute 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook one minute more. Add in the canned chiles and jalapenos. Saute 2-3 minutes, until the jalapenos start to get limp. Stir in the seitan and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked beans, along with 3 cups vegetable broth, and the chili blend. Simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust salt, if necessary, and serve hot over brown rice.

*If you slice the jalapenos in half and take out the seeds and veins with a spoon, you can reduce the heat. Be sure to carefully wash your hands with soap and water you handle peppers.

It's also probably important to note that many traditional white chilis are topped with a mild white cheese, such as Monterrey Jack. I haven't found a vegan cheese I like well enough for this purpose--but perhaps you know of one? If you're feeding a lacto-vegetarian, you might top this with a mild, grated white cheese--or at least put the cheese in a bowl on the table.

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