Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

It's been unseasonably warm in Minnesota, so much so that it felt like I was vacationing over the holidays!  Well...that's a bit of a stretch...but I did drive around with the windows down and went on a nice post-Christmas run with my friend Leigh where I was able to break out my spring running jacket again.  But all of this nice weather put a dent in my cooking plans because who wants to make chili when it's really nice out?  I sure didn't.  Today it finally started to cool down and I figured the time was right for me to cook up a big pot of chili and get ready for the inevitable Minnesota chill. 

Inspired by a delicious lunch this summer from one of the food trucks, I thought a lovely sweet potato and black bean chili would be a nice combination.  I also was able to use some of my delicious Red Gold canned tomatoes!  I loved the "chili ready" tomatoes because they were chopped into a larger dice than ordinary diced tomatoes, making them perfect for a hearty chili.  Kudos Red Gold for that inspired version of canned tomatoes!

This recipe requires very little prep work, so it's easy to throw together after work or when you're trapped inside because of a snow storm.  (It's going to happen people....)  But don't be fooled by the simplicity of the recipe.  It's hearty and healthy, plus the canned tomatoes and sweet potatoes add some softness to the relatively spicy chili.  Work with these ingredients and add more or less seasonings to suit your taste.  If you have a favorite chili recipe of your own, consider adding in some sweet potatoes and black beans to change it up a bit! 

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
serves about 4 portions

2 tbls vegetable or canola oil
1/2  of a yellow onion, finely chopped
6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced into 1/4-inch cubes
2 tbls chili powder
1 tbls cumin
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped onions and saute until translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Then add the garlic and sweet potatoes, and saute for another 5 minutes. 

Add in the chili powder and cumin and stir to coat the vegetables in the spices.  Pour in the vegetable stock and using a spoon, scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of the spices off the bottom.  Add the two cans of tomatoes and stir.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and allow to simmer covered for 10 minutes. 

Add the beans to the pot, and check for seasonings.  Add salt & pepper at the time if you need it.  Cover and let simmer for another 10 minutes.  Recheck for seasonings and serve. 

I topped my chili with about a tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro for a bit of freshness.  You can also serve with sour cream or slices of avocado.  It's delicious.  DELICIOUS!

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