Happy National Vegetarian Week people! Seems there is a day/week for literally every foodstuff these days – this week is also National Sandwich Week and last week was National Donut Week – which I had to mark with a towering donut jenga made of Co-Op’s accidentally vegan donuts – photographic evidence:
But back to this week and we’ve reached Week 19. Back in my meat-eating days one of my favourite recipes was Leon’s Classic Chilli – great for entertaining or making in batches and freezing or having lunch for the week. But it’s dropped off the radar since switching to plants last September and Leon’s Fast Vegetarian and Happy Salads books have been my new go-tos. But flicking back through the original Leon cookbook, I came across the recipe again – with the spattered pages reminding me how much I enjoyed it.
So I thought I’d give a vegan version a crack, using Linda McCartney’s ‘mince’ and making a ‘sour cream’ out of Vegenaise and avocado (just mash one avocado and mix in a couple of tsp of Vegenaise). The spices remain the same as in the meaty version, but the cooking order varies as obviously the veggie mince doesn’t need marinating. And I swapped the kidney beans for a can of refried beans I had in the cupboard. Works just as well, if not better.
Ingredients: 1 tsp dried chilli flakes, 2 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp cinnamon, 4 cloves of garlic minced, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 heaped tsp of coriander seeds, 1/2 red chilli, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 red onions diced, 2 sweet peppers, diced, 1 large carrot finely diced, 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, 2 tsp medjool date chilli chutney (or any spiced chutney or sauce)
Recipe: fry the onions in the oil, add the garlic and the peppers and soften, adding the balsamic vinegar and frying off. Mix the spices together and add to the onion/pepper mix and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add the carrots and allow to soften slightly, before then adding the veggie mince. Stir the mince through the spiced vegetable mix, then add the tinned tomatoes and a can of water to make the sauce. Simmer gently and allow to thicken. After about 10 minutes, add the can of refried beans and cook gently for a further 10 minutes or so, adding a little more water if it becomes too dry. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve with rice, the avocado vegan sour cream and some tortilla chips – created from quickly baking some stale tortilla wraps. Serve and enjoy!
The flavours come together really well and intensify overnight, so if you are enjoying leftovers the next day then be prepared for a little more spicy heat! Glad I veganized this classic recipe – it can become a staple in the repertoire once again.