One of the things I cherish most is gathering around a table with a big group of loved ones. We humans have been doing that forever, sharing the bounty, breaking bread. Sadly though, communing over a meal seems harder and harder to do. Our lives are frantic, over-scheduled. Beyond that, there’s never been such an array of dietary needs to accommodate. So maybe we can find a time to get together, but then we’re left scrambling to figure out what the hell to make that everyone can eat.
All of this was on my mind when I came up with my Make it a Meal Series. The concept is simple — make it easier for people with diverse diets to dine together. The goal is to save you the time of meal planning, trying to figure out what goes with what, by providing recipes that — you guessed it — add up to a meal.
At not not, I truly want to be an inclusive food site, where eaters of all stripes are welcome. So for this first meal of the series, I made a menu that works whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or carnivore.
I figured that chili’s a good place to begin with and this one’s a simple, homestyle Black Bean Chili. It starts out in one pot and then gets divided into either two or three depending on how many variations you want to make. This one has 2 vegan variations, you can either leave it all bean, or you can add in a ground meat replacement (aka textured soy protein or textured vegetable protein). If you’re vegetarian, you can choose either one and then dairy it up with cheese and sour cream. And for the carnivores, the addition of ground meat rounds out the dish. And of course, you’re welcome to all the toppings!
Because I want this to be a recipe for all — and keeping in mind that people have different degrees of interest in spice, I’ve given you the base spices (garlic and chili powder), along with some optional ones, let’s call ’em cocoa, cumin, and hot chili — to amp up the flavour. I actually went all Kenji López-Alt on you here and had a bunch of different chili pots going with different spice combos to get this right! I hope you like it!
Stay tuned for the remaining meals in this Chili Night series — since we’re going basic with the foundation recipe, I’m adding a bit more pizazz to the meal with a tasty salad, Bibb Lettuce Salad with Orange & Cumin dressing and a fun take on dessert, Pineapple Cornbread Pudding with Citrus Sauce.
I’m really excited about the Make it a Meal series and want your feedback! Please drop me a note in the Comments section, and/or head over to the not not nutritious Facebook page and post your thoughts there. While this Chili Night menu isn’t gluten-free, other menus in the series well be. I’d love it if you’d share what your diverse household looks like, how you cope now, or anything else you like, whether you’re looking for ideas for party snacks or just an easy meal for when your daughter brings home her vegan boyfriend!
Makes about 12 cups + (depending on add-ins)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 cups diced sweet onion
- 4 cups diced mixed peppers (include some poblano peppers if you can)
- 2 19 ounce cans of black beans
- 2 28 ounce cans diced tomatoes (unsalted)
- 1 cup of canned or frozen corn
- 1 5 ounce can tomato paste
- Base spices:
- 4 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1/2 cup mild chili powder
- Recommended additional spices:
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 3 teaspoons cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot chili powder
- salt, to taste
- Optional, depending on variation chosen: 1 pound of ground meat OR 1 pound of ground meat sub (textured soy protein) or 1 additional can of beans of your choice
- sliced avocados
- grated cheddar cheese or vegan sub
- sour cream or vegan sub
- minced cilantro
- In a large pan, heat the oil and get the onion frying. Once the onion is starting to soften, add the mixed peppers and fry over medium heat until soft and the edges are starting to show a bit of brown.
- Add in the black beans, tomatoes, corn, tomato paste and spices. Stir well and let simmer for about 15 minutes.
- If you are making variations, split the ingredients into the needed number of pots.
- Choose your adventure:
- For straight up Black-Bean Chili, add an extra can of beans if desired.
- For Black Bean Chili with Meat Substitute aka TSP, TVP, or textured soy protein, stir in the meat substitute.
- For Black Bean Chili with Beef – In a separate frying pan, cook the ground beef until browned. Add it to the chili.
- Simmer for at least an hour, longer if possible. Add water as needed to thin it out.
- Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve with your choice of toppings.
Like the Make it a Meal idea? Check out my other meals.