Saturday, October 22, 2011

Crocktober: Vegan Sweet Potato and Pinto Bean Chili

After an unexpectedly long shift at my retail job this evening, I'm feeling a little short on poetic banter, but that doesn't mean that this recipe isn't a good one. The spice factor is totally up to you, but personally I'm a bit heavy-handed with them, so my three teaspoons of chili powder were probably more like "heaping teaspoons." Do whatever makes you happy.
1 cup dry pinto beans (2 1/2 cups prepared)
1 large sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-ish cubed 
1 cup water
1/2 onion, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with jalapenos
2 tsp orange or tangerine zest
3 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Pinch ground allspice (optional)
Fresh cilantro leaves, torn, for serving 
Salt and pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp seasoned salt)
Cooking spray

1. If you're using dry beans, sort, rinse, and soak them in the refrigerator overnight (or for up to 24 hours) in plenty of water. Change the water at least twice in this time. If you are using canned or pre-cooked beans, just skip this step and rinse them well just before you add them to the crock.
2. Combine everything but the cilantro in a sprayed crock, and cook on low for 7-9 hours or high for 4-5. Serve with some fresh cilantro on top.

Easy peasy. I don't have a zester (or a grater, for that matter) so I used a vegetable peeler to peel off just the outer skin of my tangerine (no white stuff!) and minced it, which I think worked just fine.
 The only significant thing I would change about this is to alter the bean-to-potato ratio by adding another sweet potato. In my 2 qt machine another sweet potato wouldn't have fit, but in a larger crock it would. As a technical thing, I might add the sweet potatoes a couple of hours into the cooking time, in the future. Even with dry beans that had been soaking for about 20 hours, the sweet potato was done well before the beans were. I also think this would be yummy with butternut squash instead of the sweet potato.

If you're not bound to the "vegan" thing, this would be yummy with some grated cheese on top.

Quote of the Day: Said Aristotle unto Plato, "Have another sweet potato?,"Said Plato unto Aristotle, "Thank you, I prefer the bottle." ~ Owen Wister (1860-1938), American novelist

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