This is a hearty, satisfying version of chili without meat, and it is good made a day ahead. If you freeze the tofu for a few hours, and then thaw it, it gives it a rather meaty texture; it crumbles nicely and it seems to absorb more of the cooking liquid. If you want to omit this step you can. We often serve this with assorted garnishes–chopped scallions, lowfat sour cream or a little grated sharp cheddar, and slices of jalapeno peppers, and of course, corn bread.
Note: If you want to use dried beans, soak 1 pound of kidney beans covered with water overnight. Pour off the soaking water and add enough water to cover by about 1-inch. Bring the beans and water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer beans, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes. Then proceed with the recipe below. Cooking dried beans like this gives the chili a better texture and taste, but using the canned beans is quick and easy and pretty good.
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
1 pound firm tofu, frozen, thawed, and crumbled or 1 package tempeh, crumbled
6 to 8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon good quality chili powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground cumin seed
2 19-ounce cans dark red kidney beans
28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram, crumbled
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Few dashes Angostura bitters
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Heat the oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion for a minute. Add the celery and bell pepper and sauté 2 or 3 minutes. Add the tofu or tempeh and stir for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and stir for a few minutes. Add the beans, tomatoes, molasses, oregano, salt, and bitters, stir well and cook over medium heat, just simmering for 15 minutes.
Taste for seasoning, add more chili powder or salt, if necessary. Add the parsley, stir well, and cook for 5 minutes more. Serve hot with optional garnishes, if desired.
© Susan Belsinger