Vegetarian Chili De Frijoles is basically the vegetarian version of Chili con Carne – it simply translates to chili with kidney beans. Which I guess you could say is Chili sin Carne (chili without meat). So basically, a vegetarian chili with kidney beans, and in this case, also one of my favorite grains – Grünkern. Oh and did I mention I add a little chocolate to this chili? Yes, chocolate. Just one square to add an extra layer of richness. I like to use my favorite organic, fair trade chocolate – a mild dark chocolate with 70% cacao. Sometimes I even use cacao powder and a little brown sugar, to mellow out the bitterness. There are so many variations of chili out there, but with a little tweaking and playing around with variations, as far as basic chilis goes, this is my favorite so far.
Variations to this vegetarian chili recipe
I would call this a basic recipe for vegetarian chili. One that can be easily adapted. The key ingredients are the spices (although many chili recipes do not contain oregano), the tomatoes and the kidney beans. The rest is up to you. I sometimes use fresh beans rather than canned beans (highly recommended for taste, but of course more work) or simply a mix of beans and sometimes I double up the beans and skip the Grünkern or even serving rice on the side.
Other times I add corn, or sweet potato or even zucchini (at the end along with the beans, as I like my zucchini fresh tasting and not too soft). And what I also love to do is serve chili over top of blanched spinach (50 g per person) for an extra healthy meal that tastes fantastic! This is a great thing to do with leftovers. Or add extra veg to the leftovers and you have the feeling that you are eating a new meal.
Vegetarian Chili sin Carne with Grünkern (Chili De Frijoles)
A simple and healthy vegetarian chili made with the German grain, Grünkern. Easily substituted with spelt, freekeh or other grain of choice.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 small yellow onions, chopped
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 medium carrot, diced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika (sweet)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 x 400 g can organic chopped tomatoes
- 3/4 cup Grünkern (150 g)
- 2 cups water
- 1 x 400 g can kidney beans
- 1 fresh red chili deseeded and membrane removed, thinly sliced
- 1 square dark chocolate (70% cacao) (10 g)
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 lime, quartered
To garnish (optional)
- fresh herbs such as flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
- sprinkling of chili flakes for extra heat
- sliced avocado
In a large non-stick saucepan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is transparent, about 6-7 minutes.
Add the red pepper and carrot and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the spices and stir for 1 minute.
Next add the chopped tomato, Grünkern and water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the kidney beans and fresh chili, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the chocolate, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until chocolate melted and well combined.
Serve into bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and serve with a wedge of lime.
- I added the fresh chili at the end as I like it’s fresh flavors. But if you prefer you can add it along with the red pepper and carrots. This will mellow it’s flavor. Be sure to remove the white membranes along with the seeds, unless you like things spicy. This is where the heat is.
- I serve the lime on the side, but you could also squeeze a whole lime in with the Chili sin Carne before serving. For me, lime is a must, as it adds the perfect amount of fresh and brightly flavored acidity.
- I like to serve this over blanched spinach.
- When reheating leftovers you may want to add a little more water, as the Grünkern will soak up some of the liquid as it sits.
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