Greetings, gentle readers.
As I write this, I’m watching yet another episode of Law and Order: SVU. Ice-T just spiked a dodgeball onto the head of an adolescent bully, and Richard Belzer is crackin’ wise. All is well in the world.
And what a topsy-turvy world it is. Your Insomnibaker has been on the path of some serious soul searching these days. Three months ago, I had several Grand Plans For Life that were Definitely, Definitely Going to Happen. Everything was Coming Up Insomnibaker. There’s a wonderful Yiddish proverb that comes to mind, “Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht” (Man plans, God laughs). I won’t give specifics. Some you know. But the Insomnibaker is a riddle, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a Snuggie, watching Law and Order.
Such topsy turvy times call for a delicious bowl of my Kitchen Sink Veggie Chili, topped with a healthy helping of melted cheddar cheese. It’s on of my staple recipes, especially when I’m trying to stretch a dollar. This chili is quite versatile, and can be made into a variety of dishes: over rice, mixed into an omelet, as a side dish with grilled chicken, and (my favorite) eaten strait with melted cheese. It’s also a healthy serving of veggies and fiber, with an easily adjustable level of spice. Why so easily changed? Because it’s made with whatever you happen to have in the fridge. All that, and the kitchen sink.
- Like all the best recipes, this starts with a big heavy pot, a few glugs of olive oil, and diced onion. I love onions, so I usually use a large onion. I prefer red onions. If you like a bit more sweetness, use yellow. Like ’em benign? Use white.
- Like garlic? Use garlic.
- You best hunker down, the whole recipe’s going to be like this.
- Personally, I love garlic, but in this recipe it tends to overpower the veggies.
- Speaking of veggies, it’s best to have everything neatly diced up ahead of time.
- This time around, I used 1 yellow pepper, one green, two poblanos, two anaheim, three biggish carrots, and three medium-sized parsnips.
- A note about parsnips. They are awesome! Slightly sweeter than carrots, but with a hearty goodness all their own, parsnips are an excellent source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.
- A note about the veggie mix that you use– this recipe is flexible enough to accomodate just about anything, but the basic ratio should be 1 part mild peppers, 1 part slightly-hotter-than-milk-peppers, 2 parts root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips are best– they will provide bulk and fiber. Potatoes don’t add a ton of flavor and don’t hold up well enough against the rest of the veggies).
- Everything prepared? You ready to cook?
- No? Oh, okay, I’ll wait.
- Have you seen Louie? It’s amazing. I once worked on a a comedy event to benefit a shelter for abused women and children. Apparently the year before, a comedian dropped out at the last minute, and Louis C. K. filled in. Apparently he was not a big hit with the board. Something about how making joked about killing his wife was in poor taste while raising money for battered women. Ah well. I still think he’s the best comedian working today.
- Ready now? Awesome.
- Heat up your olive oil until it shimmers. Sweat the onions over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes.
- Dump in your veggie mix and sautée for about 10 minutes, stirring every so often. The veggies should be pretty firm, they’ll soften up during the simmering process.
- Dump in 1 can each of black beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and diced tomatoes.
- How big a can, you ask?
- It doesn’t matter, I answer. I promise, you can’t fuck this up.
- Dump in a smallish handful of chili powder, and a largish handful of cumin. Some dried parsley wouldn’t go amiss in here.
- Stir it all up, and let it simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes. If you like your chili super-thick, let it go for longer.
VERDICT: Pretty she ain’t, but this is a near-perfect fridge staple. Hearty, cheap, and darn comforting. It will keep for about 10 days, but mine never lasts long. So get out your shredded cheddar, put on some SVU, and be merry.