Let me set the scene for you all. Ahem. Every morning, I open my kitchen window and peer out into my beautiful backyard while grinding coffee beans for my daily cup of coffee. Ahhh, pastoral. There's usually a cardinal family and chipmunk frolicking about, sometimes a bunny, maybe even a skunk. Today, my coffee grinder began to smoke; I made a mental note to purchase a new one that afternoon. Anyways, I glanced over at the thermometer and it was 10 degrees C in the shade. 10! Being an autumn junkie, I was over-the-moon. "It's the Summer of Allison!" I exclaimed, in my head.
How do I make this weather stay nice and crisp and humidity-free? I think the answer is more chili. And soup. And hot food. Who's with me!? Not that I don't love the pounds of fresh produce that come along with the warm temperatures, I just wouldn't mind just skipping past the rest of the muggy summer weather and sliding right into back-to-school season. The moral of the story is: I don't like summer very much and I'm pining for fall already. Sweaters! Apples! Squash! Pants! Socks! Don't act like you're not excited.
Field Tomato Chili with Walnuts & Black Beans
3 field tomatoes (about 3 cups), cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups (2, 14-oz cans) cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
2 yellow or green zucchini, sliced into quarters horizontally, and cut into ½-inch pieces
2 cups unsalted or low-sodium vegetable broth or water
1 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped (for nut-free, see notes below)
1 large sweet potato, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large white or sweet onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 to 2 tsp sea salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste
¼ tsp chili flakes, more or less, to taste
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Sour cream or yogurt of choice, for serving (I used this recipe from Whole Foods, letting the cashews soak for a few hours longer in boiling water)
Chopped chives or green onions, for serving
Place all ingredients (except the sour cream and chives, for serving) in a large pot or large enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover half-way, and cook, stirring every 10 minutes for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat; with the back of a large serving spoon, mash a bit of the chili to thicken to broth. Stir and cook, uncovered over low heat for 5 more minutes. Serve hot with your favourite chili garnishes (sour cream, avocado, chives, cilantro, etc.)
1. This chili tastes best made a day, or even two days in advance.
2. Once cool, you can freeze the chili in zip-top bags for up to 2 months. Just be sure to get most of the air out of the bags to reduce freezer burn.
3. If you have a nut allergy, you can leave out the walnuts, replacing them with 1 cup of cooked green lentils for a similar chewy texture.