Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa

For some reason football and chili have formed a bond almost like no other. You cannot have one without the other, especially when watching the games at home. Up until recently, I wasn’t really a fan of either football or chili – even the vegetarian versions! I don’t eat ground meat, especially ground beef, and I cannot stand black beans. So even when you remove the ground beef, most people will “up the ante” with the beans to increase the protein for their vegetarian friends. I do however love the flavor of the sauce, and I love the idea of a chili. So thankfully I found this delicious chili recipe in the Cooking Light Complete Cookbook.

Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avacado Salsa

Prep time: 16 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Yields  7 servings

2 tsp canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
3 garlic gloves, minced
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chilies, undrained
2/3 cup uncooked quick-cook barley
1/4 cup water
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained – I use 1 can only, as I don’t love beans
1 (4.5 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (4.5 oz) can organic vegetable broth – I used 1/2 cup Campbell’s reduced sodium vegetable broth
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
7 lime wedges
1 cup Avacado Salsa (see below)
Baked tortilla chips (optional)
Dried red chilies, crushed (optional, to taste)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper(s), saute for 3 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic, and green chilies; cook for 1 minute. Stir in barley, water, black beans, tomatoes, and vegetable broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer (covered) for 20 minutes, or until barley is tender. Stir in cilantro, and serve with lime wedges, Avacado Salsa, and tortilla chips.

Modifications: We added more bell peppers of various colors, just to increase the amount of vegetables, and the overall look of the dish! And we opted out of the lime wedges – neither of us felt the need for the squirt of lime juice. We tried the tortilla chips and decided we did not like them; we preferred the french loaf instead. I like adding about 3 dried red chilies to my chili.

Avacado Salsa

Prep time: 8 minutes
Yields 2 cups

1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped peeled avocado
2 tbsp chopped red onion
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (leave seeds in for spicier salsa)

Combine and serve.

Modifications: My boyfriend and I decided to skip making this and instead opted for plain avocado puree. (Basically my fancy way of saying mashed avocado!) My boyfriend preferred my guacamole (below) while I really enjoyed the plain avocado.

Guacamole by S

Prep time: 5 minutes
Yields approx. 1 cup

1 avocado
1/2 cup salsa

Chop avocado into pieces; mash to a fine paste (or puree with a food processor). Add salsa and serve.

Note: It will turn brown when you add the salsa. To avoid this, add some lime or lemon juice to the avocado and mix in before adding salsa. Play around with the flavors and see what you prefer!

This chili is delicious and easy to make! The avocado really adds to this dish, I will never eat chili without it (if I can)! Add some french bread or some buns, and call it a meal!

And for the non-vegetarians out there who are looking for a way to add meat into this dish, try cooking chicken or turkey separately (cut into small bite-sized pieces), and add into the chili before serving. My boyfriend and I made it with chicken, and it worked quite well. My mother made this again on Grey Cup Sunday, the vegetarian version, and it was equally delicious!

S.

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