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The Vegetarian

Chili Hot Enough for a Chilly Day

December 31, 1987|DIANA SHAW | Shaw is free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

The bitter breezes of the current cold front had barely begun to blow through the cracks in my kitchen window, when I rushed to get the burners going under kidney beans, bulgur wheat, and a variety of vegetables. The weatherman had said "chilly," and I'd thought "chili": big, steaming bowls of spicy, bean-studded stew, served over a mound of rice, under a sprinkling of cheese, beside piping hot spoon bread.

I served my chili to some of the more skeptical carnivores I know, who polished off an imposing pot of it, eating, as well, the words they had used to insist that a vegetarian version could never rival the "real thing." This chili improves with age, up to three days, refrigerated. Spoon bread won't keep, and should be served as soon as it's done.

CHILLY-DAY VEGETABLE CHILI

3/4 cup tomato juice

1/2 cup coarse bulgur wheat

2 tablespoons oil

1 large white onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped

1 large green pepper, chopped

1 large sweet red pepper, chopped

1 large yellow pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon paprika

Crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper

2/3 pound large white mushrooms, quartered

2 yellow squash, sliced

1 cup cooked kidney beans

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup red wine

Cooked rice

Shredded Jack cheese

Sour cream or plain yogurt

Minced cilantro

In small bowl, pour tomato juice over bulgur wheat. Let stand 15 minutes, until juice is absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven. Saute onion, garlic and carrots until onion is translucent. Add green, red and yellow peppers and saute until tender. Add chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika and red pepper flakes to taste. Stir to blend.

Add mushrooms and squash, stirring to coat with spices. Add beans and tomatoes, stirring over medium heat until tomatoes cook down. Add bulgur and red wine. Stir, cover and cook over medium low heat 45 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Taste to adjust for seasonings.

Serve over rice with cheese, sour cream and cilantro as toppings. Makes 4 servings.

SPOON BREAD

2 1/2 cups milk

1 cup cornmeal

5 eggs, separated

Scald milk, then slowly stir in cornmeal. Keep stirring until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Stir egg yolks into cornmeal mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff and fold in. Pour into greased 2-quart souffle dish. Bake at 400 degrees 35 to 45 minutes, or until brown. Makes 6 servings.

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