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Game Day or Winter Comfort Food

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Vegetarian Chili

Makes 8 servings

Chili is the perfect accompaniment for Sunday game day or a movie night. I turned a dish that could be ordinary into something extraordinary by combining different types of beans, vegetables and peppers for layers of flavor. My family serves it steaming hot, right out of the slow cooker, accompanied by a platter filled with lots of tempting accompaniments.

For great taste and visual effect, use all the different beans I do or a combination of what you have on hand, or like. The squash, sweet potatoes, and a variety of peppers make this hearty dish delicious and nutritious. If you prefer a milder chili, add the smoky chipotle later in the cooking process so less heat will flavor the chili.

4 cups dried beans (pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, and/or chick peas), sorted through and soaked overnight (or canned beans)

Neutral-flavored oil such as canola

2 large red onions, peeled and diced

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large dice

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into large dice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 red bell peppers, roasted, stemmed, seeded, peeled, and diced

2 dried Ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded, toasted and torn into small pieces

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, chopped

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

6 tablespoons tomato paste

One 28- to 29-ounce can tomato puree

One 28-ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes with their juices

7 cups water

Suggested Accompaniments:

Fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels (cooked), chopped scallions, grated Cheddar cheese, tortilla chips, sour cream, chopped red onions, chopped jalapeños, chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fresh cilantro, fresh lime wedges, shaved bittersweet chocolate

1. Drain the beans, rinse them under cold water and set aside. Preheat a slow cooker to low.

2. Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with oil. Brown the onions, squash, and sweet potatoes in batches. Season each batch with salt and pepper. Transfer the vegetables to the slow cooker insert.

3. Turn the heat to medium and lightly sauté the garlic and roasted peppers until golden. Add to the insert.

4. Add the drained beans, the Ancho chilies, chipotle, cumin, coriander, tomato paste, tomato puree, tomatoes with their juices, and water to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours until the beans are tender or for 2 hours if using canned beans.

5. Ladle into bowls and pass your choice of garnishes.

Laura Frankel is an Executive Chef at Wolfgang Puck Kosher Catering and author of numerous kosher cookbooks including Jewish Cooking for All Seasons and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes. To purchase her books, click here. For more articles by Laura, click here.
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