Your New Favourite Chili Recipe
by: Alessandro Giovinazzo
edited by: Kristen Llorca
I come from a cooking tradition and culture (Italian), which has a different approach to eating than the one I’ve experienced here in the States. For example, I was stunned, when, a waiter in Santa Barbara, CA asked me what type of “protein” I would like with my order. It sounded like a question my dietitian would ask, not a server. That’s when I discovered America’s odd obsession with protein (including vegans & vegetarians). It then became my understanding- if vegan food is boring then at the very least it should include protein?!
SO FREAKING SAD!
When I go to a restaurant, it’s with the intention to enjoy. Therefore, I chose food as any Italian would, which means I base my choices on their relative flavor, desire, and joy! In Italy, a recipe that is vegan is not a “vegan recipe”, it is just a good recipe. It’s secondary characteristic is vegan, but “vegan” is not the whole reason for the meal.
No one would consider serving ‘boring’ vegan food, because nobody would buy it in Italy, and that would be epicurean suicide. Food must be appealing to everyone, vegans and non-vegans alike.
Lastly, if a carnivore happens to eat a delicious meal that also happens to be vegan, that person is not thinking of it as “vegan food”. Instead, it’s a delicious experience, and that’s it. For example, no one thinks of pesto as a vegan food- you eat it, you like it….it’s pesto! that’s it!
This naturally help us to approach vegan cooking with a certain amount of peace and ease, when we simply select recipes from our culinary tradition that are already vegan or can very simply be such without compromising the flavor.
Mostly, when I’m cooking vegan food or a vegan variation of something that isn’t traditionally vegan, I’ll cook it so you won’t feel something is missing, because you shouldn’t. If you do- miss cheese in it, or meat in it, it means the recipe itself is no good. The dish must be so flavorful and complimentary that it stands on its own; not a vegan version of another dish. When you approach a dish with the only intent of making a vegan version or another dish the result is generally the following:
It can actually be decent or even good BUT while eating, everyone will be thinking about how much better the non-vegan version would be. Thereby, taking your guests out of the present and furthering the belief of healthy food as lackluster, at best.
All that to say, that below is my recipe for “Magical Mediterranean Chili” (which also just happens to be vegan). At the “Chili Cookoff” where I debuted my dish, no one missed the meat & everyone came back for seconds. It was right as it was- it wasn’t a recipe where I replaced meat to satisfy a vegan audience. I created a recipe delicious in its own right (if I do say so myself).
Magical Mediterranean Chili
2 Large Carrots
1 Clove Garlic
1 teaspoon Chilly Flakes (or to desired heat)
1/2 pound Kale
1/2 ripe organic lime (you’ll use the skin also)
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or until you reach your preferred ‘heat’)
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
2 15oz cans Black Beans
2 15 oz cans Kidney Beans
2 15oz Red Tomato Sauce
4-5 Tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Servings: 6 generous servings
How to cook it
Split the two leaks in quarter, and chop it really thin. You can also use the top greeny part. Cook all parts until soft. Add olive oil to a large skillet and season with salt. Add a wedge of garlic to make a “soffritto”. Use high heat for the first 3-4 minutes to get the water out and to make it immediately soft, then reduce to medium, and let it go cook until the leeks become completely soft and throughly cooked. Then, add diced carrots. Once the carrots are almost cooked, add thinly chopped the kale. Saute the kale for a few minutes until it is crunchy. Then, remove the garlic from the pan, so it won’t overwhelm the other flavors.
Move the all soffritto and sautéed vegetables to a medium/large pot, add very thinly chopped lime skin. The essential oils of the lime (fresh and bitter) will give a unique, but very gentle flavor to the dish. Its freshness will be a fantastic contrast to the “sweetness”of the beans. After a minute or so add the 2 cans of plain tomato sauce and set the stove to ‘high’ for about 1/2 minutes.
Then, add both kinds of beans (you may also use dry organic beans that you let re-hydrate overnight). Stir thoroughly, and allow to boil. When it begins to bubble, reduce heat to ‘low’. Then, add a splash of lime juice. Cook the dish very slowly, and stir regularly every couple minutes, so the bottom won’t get burned. The flavors of the veggie-soffritto will have time to infuse into the beans and sauce, the watery part of the sauce and bean water will dry out slowly. Add black pepper, and the hot-spices (cayenne and red-hot flakes) to your liking. Remember though: you should be able to taste everything you put in the dish, so very hot is good, but the red pepper must not overpower the other flavors in your dish. Cover and let simmer for 45 minutes.
People won’t even remember that a chili ever contained meat. They’ll just love it!
That’s our goal- Make great food, not vegan food!
p.s. people also won’t realize that this yummy recepy is not only vegan, but gluten free, grain free, and dairy free as well. Those ingredients would have ruined the flavor anyway.
If you are in the Miami area, and would like to join Alessandro for a intimate, demonstration, dinner, and kombucha tasting with Non-Prophet Brewing Company, join us for “La Cena” on February 7th. To save your seat visit, kris10yoga.com/experiences