I have often found that some of my best ever recipes have come from using random leftovers from my cupboards and fridge. A few weeks ago I was in a very lazy mood and with the weather being terrible outside I just couldn’t bring myself to go out. The problem was that I really wanted chilli con carne, but had no mincemeat. In fact, I had no meat defrosted at all. Despite the nearest supermarket being not even 50 yards away, leaving my nice warm flat to get some beef mince was just not an option. Instead, I found myself holding a random butternut squash that I had just happened to find sitting in the back of my fridge.
For a while I just looked at it wondering how on earth I could possibly even be contemplating making a chilli con carne with absolutely no meat. Then I looked out of my kitchen window at the grim, rainy day and decided that perhaps a chilli with no meat wasn’t so bad after all. I immediately got to work and began slicing and dicing, and peeling and finely chopping all the ingredients for my meat-free dish. As well as having no meat, I also had no onions, so in true leftover style I decided that three loose echalion shallots would just have to do instead.
Now I feel that I must explain something. It’s not that I don’t like vegetarian dishes, in fact, I make a point of making sure I have one meat-free day a week and thoroughly enjoy it! My initial problem here however, was that I just couldn’t imagine a tasty chilli con carne without the meat. Well, how wrong was I? After simmering my veggie chilli for an hour the taste was amazing! It just goes to show that sometimes it’s okay to step away from the original, traditional versions of our favourite dishes and try something new. Although I’m sure that I’ll always be a meat eater, it’s dishes like this that really show us carnivores that vegetarian food can taste just as good, if not better than a meat filled feast!
1 butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
400g kidney beans in chilli sauce
200g black beans, drained
3 echalion shallots (or an onion if you’re lucky enough to have one), peeled and chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon sun dried tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Half a teaspoon ancho chilli powder (can use regular chilli powder if this is hard to find)
Salt and fresh black pepper
Serve with rice and freshly sliced avocado
- Heat around a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and begin to fry the onions, stirring occasionally until soft.
- Add in the fresh chilli and garlic and cook for a further minute or two before adding in the butternut squash. Once the squash is in the saucepan, pour in all the spices along with the sun dried tomato paste and mix well. Fry off for a couple of minutes stirring every now and then.
- Pour in the chopped tomatoes, beans and the water and mix. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer and cover for 1 hour.
- After an hour your squash and beans should be nice and soft and ready to serve. Spoon onto a plate with some steaming hot rice and a handful of sliced avocado for the perfect meal!