Oh-So-Delicious Vegan Chili

Tonight was one of those nights when I was hungry but couldn’t quite seem to gather the energy or inspiration to make a multi-dish meal. After flipping through a cookbook for ideas (*see below*) I happily realized I had everything to make chili. Even better, I had the opportunity to experiment and make my own recipe. This chili turned out to be so good, I had to go back for seconds (and let’s be real, thirds, too!).

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 T Italian Dressing (I used an organic one)
– 1 T extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil
– 1 small onion, finely chopped.
– 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped (or 2 smaller cloves)
– 1 small zucchini, diced.
– 1 jar or 24 oz of tomato sauce
– 1 can or 15 oz diced tomatos
– 1 can or 15 oz garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed.
– 1/2 can or 8 oz black beans, drained and rinsed.
– 1 cup corn, frozen or fresh (use more if desired).
– 1 cup sliced bell pepper, frozen or fresh (use more if desired).

ADDED SPICES:

– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/4 tsp black pepper
– 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
– 1-3 tsp chili powder, depending on preference.
– dash of parsley
– salt as desired

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil and italian dressing until translucent.
2. Add the zucchini and pour half the jar of tomato sauce over the vegetables. Let this simmer for a couple of minutes.
2. During those few minutes, drain and rinse the black beans and garbanzo beans. Add diced tomatos, both beans, corn, and peppers.
3. Pour remaining sauce over the entire mixture. Turn the heat up to high and let mixture boil for a couple of minutes. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least 15-20 minutes, or longer. Be sure to check to make sure that chili is not burning to the bottom of the saucepan occasionally.

COMMENTS:

– Very versatile. Virtually any of the ingredients can be substituted, or new ones can be added, without any difficulty depending on your preferences.
– At a total of about $7.00 and considering it makes at least enough for 6 bowls (more sauce or diced tomatoes could be added to stretch the rest of the ingredients, to bring down the price per serving), this recipe is cost effective.
– The cinnamon is a touch that I prefer, because it adds depth to the flavor of the dish. It makes the chili taste warmer, but in a sweet spicy way, not hot.
– If I had other types of canned beans (kidney beans, for example) I would have added those as well. Feel free to use whatever beans you have at home.

*INSPIRATION*:

This recipe is loosely based off of Allyson Kramer’s book,  Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats. Her Pumpkin Chickpea Chili recipe reminded me that I indeed had a long-forgotten can of chickpeas in the cupboard. I was delighted when I realized that I had open cans of diced tomatoes and black beans sitting my refrigerator just waiting to be used up. Her recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it out sometime. I just didn’t have everything necessary this time around. But thanks for the inspiration, Allyson! For those interested in learning more about her, this is her website: http://allysonkramer.com/.

 

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Finally, a vegan cheese success story: delicious lasagna.

It was a feat that I had once deemed impossible: baking a vegan gluten-free lasagna that actually tasted like regular lasagna. And I mean I wanted the lasagna I could eat to be almost exactly like the real thing. Especially the way the dairy cheese melts and oozes into gooey deliciousness; I wanted it all in a allergy-friendly version. Here’s how I finally achieved it:
 

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 package Daiya mozzarella style shreds. (find out what they are)

– 1.5 jars of sauce, or about 48 oz.

–  Seasonings of your choice: I used dried basil, parsley, and oregano. Plus the basic salt and pepper.

– 1 medium zucchini

– 2 roma tomatoes, finely sliced lengthwise.

– 1/4 small onion, finely sliced.

– 1 package of gluten-free pasta*

*I used penne. You may be asking yourself: but wasn’t this girl just raving about lasagna? Well, yes, sort of. I do have gluten-free lasagna noodles. But I only have one package and I bought them in Maine while my husband and I were on Christmas leave. I can’t find them in South Carolina. So, I wanted to make sure that this recipe was going to work out. I didn’t want to waste my lovely gf lasagna noodles on a so-so, only “okay” pasta bake. So, I used penne (which can be found in abundance in SC) so I wouldn’t be as devastated if this recipe, like many others that used other vegan alternatives to cheese, flopped.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Begin cooking gluten-free pasta as directed on package.

2. While pasta is cooking, prepare your vegetables. Slice the zucchini, roma tomatoes and onions into thin 1/8-1/4 inch rounds.

3. Remember that a lasagna-style bake is all about proper layering. This is very important.

4. For the first layer: Spatter a bit of sauce in the bottom of a 7×11 pan (this will prevent the pasta from sticking). Then place a layer of pasta on the bottom. Cover lightly with sauce. Generously toss a layer of the mozzerella style shreds. Sprinkle with seasonings according to your preference. Again, lightly cover this with sauce. I would place a spoonful at a time, smoothing it out as I went.

5. The second layer: Repeat the steps before.

6. After the second layer of the cheese and sauce, add a layer of zucchini*(instead of pasta). Lightly cover with sauce. Then layer the roma tomato slices and arrange the onion circles around the tomatoes. Cover the vegetables with cheese and then cover with sauce.

7. The last layer: Add a final cover of pasta. Spread sauce over the pasta, topping with a thinner layer of cheese and finishing with seasoning for presentation and added yumminess.

8. Bake at 375° F  for 20 minutes. Turn oven down to 325° F and bake for another 30-40 minutes.

STATS:

– Total cost: $2.99 pasta, $2.79 sauce, est. $0.60 zucchini, est $0.75 tomatoes, est $0.25 onion, $4.99 daiya shreds = $12.37.

– Cost per serving 12.37/6 = $2.06

– Total time: 30 minutes prep time + 50-60 minutes bake time = 1 hour 25 minutes +/- 5 minutes.

PROS:

– SO DELICIOUS! Especially for those who have been searching for a great dairy-free vegan alternative to dairy cheese.

– Incorporates more veggies that the average lasagna by substituting one of the pasta layers for zucchini.

CONS:

– At a total cost of more than $12, this is one of the most expensive meals that I make.

– Takes a long time to prepare and to bake.