Katrina del Mar is a photographer, filmmaker, and 20-minute cooking specialist.
We’re hungry. There’s nothing to eat. What are we gonna do?
Five of us are upstate at a friend’s country house. One of us is a gluten-free vegetarian, and another is off sugar. I like to eat whole grains and real food, but I’m not a total snob. Oh, and the other people would be happy with a grilled American cheese on white bread with a donut for dessert.
We blew a bunch of money on lift tickets. We want to save money.
I go to the cupboard and I find a bag of brown rice; it’s almost empty. So, I dig further and find some lentils, some dried split peas, and some millet. Some taco shells. I find a can of black beans, another can of refried beans, a tiny can of tomato paste. I know we have some onions and garlic. In the freezer there’s a bag of frozen carrots. Rummaging through the fridge, I turn up some slightly withered hot peppers and some cheddar cheese.
I’m in business. It’s gonna be chili & rice.
I sauté half a sliced onion in some olive oil and add half a bouillon cube. (I use Rapunzel, it’s vegan. At some point I recommended it to my friends and thankfully, they have some on hand.) I put in the brown rice and some salt while I have the teakettle on to heat up some water. When the onions are soft and the rice gets kind of opaque I toss in the lentils, split peas, and the millet, and then the hot water. Plumes of steam hiss up and I slam a lid on it, dropping it down to a low simmer temp.
I get some help to slice the onions and hot peppers (which leads to an alarming contact lens situation later) and toss them into a pot with olive oil. I rinse off the black beans in a colander. We’re in company; it’s essential to not make the country cabin into a gas factory. I’ve been told it helps if you rinse off the beans. I find chili powder and cayenne in the cabinet. (I wish they had caraway seeds, it’s a great anti-gas agent!)
Once the onions and peppers are soft I toss in some crushed, coarse-chopped garlic. Following quickly are the beans, the tomato paste, some water, some chili powder, salt, and for the sneaky warmth of it, a cinnamon stick. Cover and simmer. You know what? Some refried beans go in. Not the whole can, I took a quick survey and everybody wants some refried beans just as they come, warmed up. That and the carrots, I’m gonna keep simple. They go into their respective pots for a warmup. I toast the taco shells in the oven a little bit so they are warm and won’t break apart.
At the end we have a ton of food. It’s pretty low rent but with grated cheddar melting on vegetarian chili, girl, we sure did like it. Also, since the food was already paid for, we have more money for snowboarding.
The chili took about 20 minutes. If you want this whole recipe to take 20 minutes, make quinoa instead of the brown rice.
The brown rice took about 45 minutes; that’s a pretty long wait but it’d still take longer to go to town, sit in a restaurant, look at menus, decide and then wait for the food. I bet.
On the Fly Vegetarian Chili
Serves 4 or 5
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small hot red peppers, chopped
2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 14.5-ounce can refried beans (vegetarian, if possible)
1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can tomato paste
A little water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chili powder to your liking
1 cinnamon stick (or a little ground cinnamon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 bouillon cube (Rapunzel if you can)
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
1/8 cup lentils, uncooked
1/8 cup millet, uncooked
1/8 cup green split peas, uncooked
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Jack, cheddar, or Colby cheese, grated (optional)
Taco shells (optional)
See above for preparation directions. You should have just enough chili to feed everyone. There will probably be leftovers of the rice mixture.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
4 servings: 433 calories, 13 g fat, 16.8 g fiber, $1.95
5 servings: 346 calories, 10.4 g fat, 13.5 g fiber, $1.56
For 1 taco shell add: 62 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g fiber, $0.21
For 1 ounce grated 2% cheese, add: 90 calories, 9 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.25
1 1/2 medium onion, chopped: 69 calories, 0.2 g fat, 2.3 g fiber, $0.93
2 small hot red peppers (hot): 36 calories, 0.4 g fat, 1.4 g fiber, $0.75
2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped: 10 calories, 0 g fat, 0.1 g fiber, $0.10
3 tablespoons olive oil: 358 calories, 40.5 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.56
1/3 can refried beans: 79 calories, 1.1 g fat, 4.4 g fiber, $1.29
1 14.5-ounce can black beans: 382 calories, 1.3 g fat, 29 g fiber, $1.29
1 small can tomato paste: 131 calories, 0.2 g fat, 7.2 g fiber, $0.89
1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked: 342 calories, 2.7 g fat, 3.2 g fiber, $0.54
1/8 cup lentils, uncooked: 85 calories, 0.3 g fat, 7.3 g fiber, $0.12
1/8 cup millet, uncooked: 95 calories, 1.1 g fat, 2.1 g fiber, $0.35
1/8 cup green split peas, uncooked: 85 calories, 0.3 g fat, 6.5 g fiber, $0.25
1/2 bouillon cube (Rapunzel brand): 25 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.19
Kosher salt: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
Freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.01
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder: 35 calories, 1.9 g fat, 3.8 g fiber, $0.20
1 cinnamon stick: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.33
TOTALS: 1732 calories, 52 g fat, 67.3 g fiber, $7.81
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): 433 calories, 13 g fat, 16.8 g fiber, $1.95
PER SERVING (TOTAL/5): 346 calories, 10.4 g fat, 13.5 g fiber, $1.56