Pinto bean mole chili with orange zest [Vegan]

Jaymi's Notes:
I am a big fan of chili, especially during summer since no barbeque is complete without a pot of chili simmering to serve alongside grilled veggies, potato salad and other favorites. One of the things I love most about chili is that there is such a wide variety of recipes, especially vegetarian recipes. You could try a new recipe a day for the entire summer and never get bored. And this interesting recipe underscores why. I love mole sauce but I would never have thought to turn it into a chili recipe.

The zucchini, beans and tomato add structure, the mole adds richness with chocolate and peppers, and the splash of orange adds that extra little something that ties everything together. I also love a bit of a kick, so I added in about 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

This is a new favorite without a doubt.

More on The Cooking Project.

Kelly's Recipe:

I've tried lots of vegetarian chilies over the years, but I seldom find them really satisfying. My book club was having a chocolate themed dinner and I found this recipe for Pinto Bean Mole Chili and decided to try it. Everybody loved it, and they ate the entire pot, along with all the other main course offerings that people brought.As I often do, I made some changes to this chili. I made it with butternut squash rather than zucchini. The squash was from Ontario and the zucchini was from the States, but I also thought it would work better with the flavours of the rest of the chili. I added more water to this chili, as it seemed a bit dry with 1 1/4 cups. I couldn't find any ancho chilies, so I used a fresh jalepeno, which perhaps made this chili a bit hotter rather than smokier. If you have time, make this the day before you plan to eat it, as the flavours have a chance to develop.

This recipe is adapted from Gourmet, November, 2007.

© Jaymi Heimbuch

Pinto Bean Mole Chili

2 medium dried ancho chiles, wiped clean
1 dried chipotle chile, wiped clean
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and cooled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
Rounded 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 medium zucchini and/or yellow squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (3 tablespoons) or unsweetened cocoa powder
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
1 1/4 cups water
3 (15-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salt to taste

1. Slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a dry heavy medium skillet over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles, opened flat, turning and pressing with tongs, until pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds. Tear into small pieces.

2. Pulse cumin seeds and chiles in grinder until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in oregano, cinnamon, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

3. Cook onions in oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute, then add chile mixture and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Stir in zucchini and kale and cook, covered, 5 minutes. Add zest, sugar, chocolate, tomatoes with their juice, and water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

4. Stir in beans and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt. Serve and enjoy!

© Jaymi Heimbuch

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