Happy bean day! Oh yes it is. I wonder why Bean Day doesn’t get as high billing as Christmas?
Fortunately our freezer is stacked with enough bags and containers of chili (some labeled, most not) to keep us fed until Thanksgiving. I keep making large batches of practical, freezable, beany things like chili to stash away for mealtime emergencies at a rate that does not at all sync with the number of mealtime emergencies there actually are in this house. I suppose when I’m completely unorganized in all other areas of my life, it makes me feel totally on the ball to be making dinner ahead of time.
I eat vegetarian black bean chili because I love it, not only because it’s the new year and good for me. I added a ballast of mac & cheese partly because I still had leftover cheese stubs from our polyester & cheese Christmas party, and partly because I adore church supper-style chili, which is traditionally served on a bed of mac & cheese. If you haven’t tried it this way, you should. Isn’t anything better served on a bed of mac & cheese?
Also, my friend Lauren is hosting this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free (GAHIGF) – a monthly online event for which a theme is chosen, and bloggers create gluten-free dishes based on the theme. Lauren’s theme of choice: Follow the Calendar. As in, check out all the food-related Official days of the month, and pick one. January 6th happens to be Bean Day. (It’s also Shortbread Day. Whomever assigned that one kind of missed the mark.) Beans are totally my bag, baby.
The beans are kind of a no-brainer in terms of gluten-free-izing a recipe, but mac & cheese – I would miss that if I couldn’t eat gluten. There had to be some sort of a challenge here. There are gluten-free pastas out there – some made of quinoa, some corn – I’m a particular fan of brown rice pasta, which has a smoother mouthfeel than whole wheat pasta (which of course isn’t gluten-free, but we can eat it in our house) – be warned that it will make the cooking water much muggier than your regular pasta.
If you want to skip the pasta, this chili would also do just fine over a baked potato. Still, I’d likely add a dose of cheese on top. Or a blob of sour cream to offset the heat of the chili.
Note: just before I took this, as I was heating up the chili in a small pot on the stove, I opened another can of beans for something else, and got the 7 bean blend by mistake, and so dumped half the can into the chili. Which is why you see more than just black beans and chickpeas in the photo. Really, you could use any beans you like here.
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
canola or olive oil, for cooking
2 onions, chopped
2 red, yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1-2 tsp. chopped chipotle chili en adobo (optional)
1 tsp. cumin
2 19 oz. (540 mL) cans black beans, drained
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can red kidney beans or chickpeas, drained
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can diced or fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 small can tomato paste (a couple heaping spoonfuls)
sour cream, chopped avocado, grated cheese, chopped green onion and/or chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
Toss everything but the garnishes into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Alternatively, saute the onions, pepper and garlic in a drizzle of oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat, add everything else, bring to a simmer, turn the heat down and cook for an hour, or until thick. Chili is always better the next day – if you like, cool and refrigerate it, then reheat the pot or individual servings.
Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese
An adaptation of Pam Anderson’s Shells and Cheese, Gluten-Free, from Perfect One-Dish Dinners– by way of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.
1 lb. gluten-free macaroni or pasta shells (brown rice, quinoa, corn-your gluten-free fave)
a drizzle of canola or olive oil
1 lb. grated sharp white cheddar, Gouda, or your favourite meltable cheese, grated
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (I use my rasp)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (here, Danny demonstrates how to make them)
2-3 Tbsp. melted butter (I usually use half butter, half olive oil)
Preheat the oven to 350° and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
Boil the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water – allowing enough water to give the pasta space to move around – according to the package directions or until it’s al dente (tender but still firm). Drain the pasta immediately, drizzle with a bit of oil to keep it from sticking together, and set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the grated cheese, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and sour cream, in a large bowl; dump in the pasta and toss it to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and pour into the casserole dish.
Mix the gluten-free breadcrumbs and butter, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the pasta. Bake until the pasta and cheese are bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown, about 35 minutes.