Sunday, 26 March 2017

Vegetarian chilli

A spicy tangy chilli is the basis for tortilla and nachos. My meat chilli takes forever, slowly evolving from a magnificent bolognese through chilli con carne and re-emerging to appear in tortillas and nachos - the veggie one is a lot quicker! Prep time is about 5-10 minutes, cooking time is 40-50 minutes.

A good panful will still give you plenty to freeze, unless you're feeding a very large group - each tortilla only needs about 2 heaped tablespoons of chilli (about 50ml); for nachos, you need about 250ml of chilli per person. This recipe makes about 1.5 litres of chilli - that's about 30 tortillas, or nachos for 6. Or, nachos for 4 and then 10 tortillas, which would feed 4 nicely if 2 of them are very hungry, or feed 10 if they're all me and only want one tortilla each. You get the idea - whichever which way, you probably have enough to freeze some as well, and chilli freezes very happily and is even nicer the next time.

Some slightly out-of-character ingredients lining up... You will need:
  • 50g butter / ghee / cooking oil
  • 3 big courgettes (or 4 small ones)
  • 3 chillis (add or subtract chillis freely, depending how hot you like your food)
  • 2 limes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon of paprika
  • 2 tins of Heinz 5-Beanz - that's the out-of-character bit, we bought them by mistake, but they worked really nicely OR 2 tins of beans (1 kidney beans, 1 anything else) and a tin of tomatoes, if buying branded food that plurals with a Z isn't your thing (and indeed, normally it's not mine)
If your chilli's going to be nachos, you'll also need, per person, 50g nachos crisps, 1/2 an avocado, 1 spring onion, 40g cheddar, 60ml Greek yoghurt or sour cream, and an extra squeeze from one of your limes, and about 1 Tablespoon of chopped coriander leaf. Feel free to play fast and loose with these quantities, they're just a guide! Nachos recipe
And if your chilli's going to be tortillas, you'll also need, per 2 tortillas (1 hungry person), 2 tortillas, 1 spring onion, a cup of sliced lettuce, 2 Tablespoons of cheese, 2 Tablespoons of yoghurt, and 1/2 an avocado, if you're blessed enough to have such a thing about the place. Again, you can ad-lib quantities freely, this is just a guide if you're uncertain. Tortilla recipe

Crush the garlic (remember the garlic-peeling trick) and slice the chillis (no need to deseed them - that's where the heat lives, and my philsophy is, if you don't like the heat, why are you adding chilli?) - those two go in together, so you can pop them in the same little bowl.

Chop your courgettes into chunks of about half an inch / a bit bigger than a centimetre. The easiest way is to slice them in half, lay them flat, make some long cuts down the length of them, then chop-chop-chop sideways.

That is literally ALL of your prep. That and opening the tins.

Actually you need to zest the limes as well (grate the skin on the second-finest grater setting, not the tiny little spiky setting which is for nutmeg) but you can do that straight into the pot, while it's cooking.

In a nice deep pan (or a broad-bottomed pot), heat the butter / ghee / oil on medium-hot heat, then throw in the garlic and chilli and stir it briskly to break up the clumps. Immediately afterwards (so your garlic doesn't turn into little crispy bits), add...

All the courgette, and stir it into the garlic and chilli.

Sprinkle over a tablespoon of paprika and stir it in well.

Let the courgettes fry for about 10 minutes before you add the beans (and tomato if you're not using beans that come in tomato sauce). They get a different flavour from frying first, rather than just boiling in the bean-and-tomato juice. You can even turn the heat up to max and let them char a bit, stirring well every minute or so. They release their water quite quickly, so it's hard to burn them unless you just wander out the room and don't stir them at all.

Add the beans, and tomatoes if you're not using weird branded beanZ, and stir it all in well. Turn the temperature down to medium again if you had it on max.

Add the lime zest - I usually grate it straight into the pan, as the beans are busy coming to the boil, so I need to watch over it anyway. As a general rule, you add lime / lemon zest while something is cooking, and the juice right at the end.

 Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until it's getting thick and paste-like. You need to keep an eye on it and keep stirring, about every 5 minutes or so and more towards the end as it gets thicker, so don't leave the kitchen. This is a good moment to do your nachos or tortilla prep, and then tidy everything up again. The only thing left to do for this dish is to squeeze and add the lime juice, at the end.

When it's ready, juice your limes. (If you don't have a glorious little glass lemon squeezer, you can just squeeze them into a cup, and then use a teaspoon to pull out the pips. The pips taste disgusting if you bite them by mistake, so get those babies outta there. It helps, when you're squeezing a lime or lemon by hand, to stick a fork into the wet bit and twist it.) Pour the lime juice into the chilli and stir it in well. If the beans haven't broken up at all with all the cooking and stirring, give them a good mash with your wooden spatular or even an actual potato masher to break them up a bit.

Ta-da! Your chilli's ready! And here it is, showing off a summery look, with another chilli, ready to be turned into tortillas on the table:

And the rest of the chilli that you're not using will be for super-easy nachos or tortilla another time, when all you'll do is defrost some, heat it, and collate your nachos / tortillas.. As soon as it's cooled, pop it in little tupperwares in the quantities you'll want (50ml per tortilla, or 250ml per person for nachos) and freeze it. Remember the freezing and food-safety rules!

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