Winter Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

December 27, 2017

I hope all of you had a nice Christmas and holiday, if you were celebrating. I have a couple of special new year's recipes coming up before the weekend but wanted to share this winter chili recipe first. It's been on rotation in our house since pumpkins came into season!

I'm staying in the forest again for a couple of weeks taking care of a friend's dog. I just got here today and I'm so happy to be back, it's a lovely house and so quiet here - they have the very last house before a large protected area begins, so no cars are going past, just dogs. Their yard is even partially protected and they can't alter it. So cool. The plan is to get all my January recipes tested and shot while I'm here to get a bit ahead of the ball, especially because there's much nicer light/props/everything here than at my house! And there's a very sweet dog here, I love her.

About this recipe. I always think chili's a bit more of a late summer recipe, with the corn, tomatoes, peppers - all things that grow in August and September. I've been making this wintery vegan chili for the past couple of months and have been loving it, even without all the bright summer vegetables! Eating seasonally means the best tasting veggies year round and this is a great example of how recipes can be adapted to different seasons. I've chosen carrots, mushrooms, pumpkin, and canned tomato as the base, with plenty of spices. The pumpkin is roasted ahead of time (or use puree that you already have) and stirred into the stew for a little sweetness and to thicken everything up a bit. I usually can't eat a whole bowl of chili but with this I'll go for seconds. This makes good use of batch-cooked staples like black beans and roasted pumpkin. 

If you want to bulk things up even more, serve this with some brown rice or quinoa, or a slice of bread.


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Winter Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili
Serves four

1 tablespoon oil (coconut, grapeseed, olive)
300 grams / 2 cups mushrooms*
1 small yellow onion
300 grams / 3 medium carrots, cut into 1cm rounds
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 can diced tomatoes, 400 grams
200 grams / 1 cup pumpkin puree (see tip)
160 grams / 1 cup cooked black beans*
1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
80 grams / 3 cups fresh spinach or other greens

Heat a large pot over medium heat with the oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté for five minutes to help sear the mushrooms and draw out the water. Add the onions and cook for another couple of minutes, or until softened. Stir in the carrots and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until slightly browned. Add the garlic and spices and stir for about 30 seconds. Pour the apple cider vinegar into the pot and stir, followed by the tomatoes.

Stir in the pumpkin, beans, and water. Increase the heat to bring the chili to a low boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Take the pot off the heat and stir in the spinach. Serve hot with pomegranate, parsley, and any other toppings you like. Leftovers freeze well and will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

Tips:
• To make the pumpkin puree, choose a 500 gram pumpkin, cut it in half, and remove the seeds. Roast cut-side down at 200C for about half an hour, or until the skin can be easily pierced with a fork.  Scoop out the flesh, mash with a fork, and there's your puree. Better yet, roast a really big pumpkin (butternut, hokkaido, buttercup) and freeze the extra puree for later, or add it to grain bowls.

Notes:
1. My favourite iteration of this chili was made with shiitake mushrooms, but it's very good with regular button mushrooms, which is what I use most of the time.
2. A standard sized can of black beans can be used in place of the cooked beans.
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