19 November 2012

Quinoa, black bean & sweet potato chili

Tonight's commute was a friggin' nightmare. We sold our one and only car last month to boost our  savings for a round-the-world trip next year. It hasn't been the easiest adjustment, but we've done well so far. Portland generally has great public transportation and since I get a free bus pass from work, it was a relatively easy decision. We take the same bus in the morning for about half my trip and it's a nice way to spend a few minutes together before heading off to work. Most days have been tolerable because I can walk the 4 miles home from work pretty easily.

However, today, it started pouring around 9am and still has not stopped. And I'm not talking the usual drizzly Pacific Northwest kind of weather (I'm not made of sugar, I can handle that stuff). I'm talking full on down pour. And what do Portlanders do when there's the slightest bit of severe weather? Freak the eff out. So, after being a good girl and going to the gym, I ran out in the rain to wait for my bus....which was 8 minutes late (I got out there 5 minutes early, too, just in case)...and then it was 10 minutes late...and then 12. So, by the time I got to the next stop, I thought the waiting time would be shorter. But no, that one was also late. My 4 mile commute took 65 minutes. I should have just walked.

Thankfully, my husband (just barely) beat me home and was able to start prepping our chili. What better meal than chili for a cold, rainy night? The last few weeks I have been sick with a cold, an upper respiratory illness, then the stomach flu, so my creative energy has been a little low and need for comfort food high. A friend at work made this delicious vegan chili for a potluck and since we're about to gorge ourselves on lots of fatty food for the next month, I thought it would be a good time to have something healthy.
Note the PBR in the background...my stress is dealt with the utmost class

I actually got this recipe from a site called Milk Free Mom. However, like most things I find on blogs, I had to adjust it a bit. Not drastically, so I'll give her props for that. My friend at work made this with pumpkin and it was great. There is a lot of room for creativity here, so go to town.

The best thing about this is that I got about 8 servings out of it for about $10. Not bad considering that includes the avocado and everything is organic. I opted to use dry beans and cook them myself to save money and because canned beans have so much more sodium, but if you're looking to save time, canned beans are the way to go. I also made my looser than the recipe calls for, but that's your call. The recipe below is shown with my adjustments. The original can be found via the link above.

Quinoa and Sweet Potato Chili *
Makes about 8 servings

1 cup of dried black beans, prepared and cooked (don't drain)
6 oz can tomato paste
32 oz vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1.5 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup dry quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
avocado, cilantro, sour cream, cheese and Tapatio for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and 1/4 tsp salt and cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 5-7 minutes). Add the garlic, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander and oregano and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the tomato paste and stir constantly until starting to brown, about 1 minutes. Add the beans, stock, and potatoes, as well as the liquid from the beans if you desire a looser chili. Bring mixture to boil, then bring down to simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the quinoa. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until quinoa and potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

*Mine is not vegan due to the delicious dairy toppings


  1. Ummm, I have no idea how to make dried beans, so can you put a how-to :)? Also, does the quinoa cook in the chili or do you cook separately. I may put this on the docket for late this week or next. Looks yummy - I love chilis because then you get leftovers!

    1. This is a good guide: http://www.5dollardinners.com/how-to-cook-dried-beans/
      New Seasons also has a "grain guide" near the Bulk section that gives you instructions on ALL grains and beans. It's very helpful when you need to know ratios.

      And you add the quinoa right into the chili. Lots of leftovers! I have lunch for today and tomorrow, Shawn has lunch for tomorrow, and we have 2 servings in the freezer. This recipe is right up your alley.