CHICOPEE, Mass. (Mass Appeal) - Nothing beats winter's chill like a warm meal and Nikki Gardner came onto Mass Appeal to make some warming winter dishes.
Vegan Sweet Potato Chili with Spicy Pepita Oil
Makes 4 to 6 servings
To cook the beans:
- ½ cup dried black beans (or 1 ¼ cups canned beans, drained and rinsed)
- ½ cup dried kidney beans (or 1 ¼ cups canned beans, drained and rinsed)
- ½ cup dried pinto beans (or 1 ¼ cups canned beans, drained and rinsed)
- 1 avocado or bay leaf3-inch strip of
- kombu (a sea vegetable)
- Sort through the beans and rinse them well. Soak the beans overnight in a pot with enough water to cover the beans by 2 or more inches. Drain and rinse again before cooking.
- Return the beans to the pot, add 4 cups water to cover, plus the avocado leaf and kombu square. Bring to a boil, and cook at a hard boil for 5 minutes. Skim off any bean bubbles that form on the surface.
- Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 2 hours, until the beans are tender to the bite. The cooking time depends on the age of the beans-older beans take longer. Meanwhile, begin working on the base for the chili.
- After the beans are done, discard the avocado leaf and remaining kombu bits (the kombu will have mostly dissolved; set aside until ready to add to the chili mixture.
To make the chili:
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1/3 cup raw, unsalted pepitas
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped finely (about 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste (dissolved in 1/3 cup water)
- 1 to 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced (use less for milder spice)
- Suggested garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, fresh squeezed lime juice, grated vegan cheese, vegan sour cream
- When the beans are done, discard the avocado leaf and kombu square. Drain the beans; set aside.
- Prepare a small bowl of ice water; set aside. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the sweet potato. Return to a boil, cover, and cook for 2 minutes.
- Remove the sweet potato from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl. Drain and set aside.
- To toast the pepitas, place them in a 12-inch cast skillet over medium heat. Toss them around every few minutes until fragrant and lightly toasted. Remove from heat immediately; set aside.
- Using the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, then the cocoa powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt, and cinnamon and stir the paste mixture to combine. Add the sweet potato, stirring to coat. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, allowing the flavors to mingle. Add a few drops of water if the skillet gets too dry and the vegetables stick.
- Add the diced tomatoes and increase the heat to medium, bringing to a bubbly simmer. Stir in the tomato paste mixture, and chipotle chiles then lower the heat, and cook about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Stir in the beans. Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, just until the chili reaches the consistency and texture desired. If the mixture is too thick, add a small amount of tomato paste or water.
- Serve with toasted pepitas and a drizzle of chili-pepita oil along with your choice of suggested garnishes and with corn tortillas or corn bread.
Spicy Pepita Oil
Makes about ¼ cup
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ tablespoons raw, unsalted pepitas
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Place the red pepper flakes in a heatproof medium bowl; set aside.
- Heat a small cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the pepitas and the oil and cook until they begin to brown, about a minute or two. Remove from heat. Pour the oil over the pepper flakes and let sit 30 minutes or so, stirring now and then.
- Strain the oil mixture through a fine mesh strainer over the same bowl used for the pepper flakes. Discard the pepitas and pepper flakes. Transfer the oil to a glass jar with a tight fitting lid to store.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 1 ¼ cups cornmeal
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar
- ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup canola oil
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder together. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the agave nectar, milk, vinegar, oil, and applesauce together. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry, taking care not to over mix.
- Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until crust is golden and firm crust,