One of my friends has a sulphite allergy. In short, she could have an anaphylaxis reaction (ie, really bad difficulties breathing) if she consumes sulphites. Sulphites are a commonly used preservative and found in a whole host of foods (processed food, beer, wine, dried fruit, etc). Canada is very good at making food producers label their products with any sulphites used, so I always check labels when I know my friend will be over.
In reality, though, I don’t make many things from processed foods, so I should be ok, right? Well, as it turns out, I have been cooking with a few sulphite-laden ingredients – vegetable broth (not homemade), coconut milk and even dried fruit were among the many culprits I have found in my recent dishes.
So when we needed an emergency girls night in, and when it was -28C outside (with the wind), I scoured for recipes I could make without venturing to the grocery store AND that had no sulphites AND that would taste best the next day as leftovers (since I wasn’t going to cook after work). A pretty onerous task, if I may say so myself!
I narrowed my choices to two options: The New Spanish Table‘s Lentil and Pumpkin Stew with Roasted Garlic OR the Chili Fest Chili from Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health. The chili was rife with savoury flavours like cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, paprika and oregano. Oh, and molasses! Considering it was so cold outside, the chili won out instantly.
I modified the original recipe by increasing the onions, red bell peppers and carrots while omitting the celery. I used the sweet paprika and Aleppo chili flakes for the heat (and omitted the chipotles in adobo sauce). I mixed up the bean variety by using both red kidney beans and black beans. But, the best addition, the secret ingredient, was bulgur! (I realize that my title gave it away….)
The result was a hearty chili with the mix of savoury flavours. Not my favourite chili, as something was a bit off and I prefer my chili with a bit more robust tomato flavour. Next time I might add some tomato paste. The bulgur, though, was excellent and a healthy way to get the mouth-feel of ground meat, without any meat at all. Other grains – millet, spelt, etc – could also be used. TVP is also an option. In any case, this is a nice way to warm up during the winter. Pair it with a leafy salad, some crusty bread, or just eat the chili plain. The original recipe called for a yogurt-cilantro topping to help with the heat. Personally, mine wasn’t a spicy chili but that’s because I didn’t put in the chipotle peppers!
I will have to find some more red peppers to make that lentil and squash stew, though…
Vegetarian Bulgur Chili (aka Moosewood’s Chili Fest Chili, adapted)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups diced onion (1 large onion)
2.5 cups diced red bell peppers
2 cups diced carrots
1.5 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp paprika (I used Hungarian sweet paprika, but smoked would be nice too)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp Aleppo chili flakes
28-oz can tomatoes
1 tbsp molasses
19-oz can red kidney beans, undrained (or 1.5 cups cooked red kidney beans with their cooking liquid)
19-oz can black beans, undrained (or 1.5 cups cooked black beans with their cooking liquid)
1/2 cup coarse bulgur
salt, to taste
1. In a soup pot over high heat, warm the oil briefly and then saute the onions and bell peppers for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, reduce heat to medium and saute for 5 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender.
2. Stir in the cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, cloves and chili flakes. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring ocassionally so that the spices don’t stick.
3. Meanwhile in blender, puree the tomatoes. add the tomatoes, molasses, beans (with their liquid) and bulgur to the soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom. Add salt to taste.
4. Serve warm and top with a mixture of yogurt and cilantro if desired.