I usually try to shop around the edge of the store, as they say - fresh fruits and vegetables, un-frozen meat and fish; that sort of thing rather than the canned/frozen/packaged stuff, although it’s not a strong and hard rule, just the way my cooking has evolved over the years. But sometimes it’s handy to have a pantry full of possibilities, especially when you’re apt to be faced with emergencies like blizzards or unexpected company.
I have a couple of recipes that fall into that category, and I’ve had acquaintances act shocked when I’ve given them out. "That’s not really cooking," was one of the milder remarks. Maybe not, but it’s feeding folks, and I’ll settle for that.
This extremely easy vegetarian chili is from New Mexico Cooking, by Clyde Casey, a book I suspect is out of print. It makes a lot of chili, but it freezes well, especially in single-serving quantities; it just needs to be reheated very slowly unless you’ve omitted the cheese and plan on adding it just before serving. The different vegetables make for a nice mouth-feel. Garbanzos, way untraditional, and the hominy (and this is the whole hominy, not the ground-up grits) are particularly good here. Joe, notoriously un-fond of zucchini, suggests substituting eggplant for the zukes, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. And, as is often is the case, you can be cavalier about the sort of canned tomatoes. I’ve used a 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and another, the same size, of whole peeled tomatoes that I cut up rather roughly. I drained all the juice from the beans and hominy, but saved it to thin things out as needed. (It took a little.) This is commercial chili powder, not ground chile peppers. And while the recipe calls for garlic powder, don’t hesitate to mince a clove or two of garlic and throw it in. The recipe calls for salt to taste, but most canned beans are packed with salt, so I’ve never found it necessary, and I’m generally a salt person.
1 28-oz. can tomatoes, crushed
2 medium onions, chopped
1 15-oz. cans pinto beans
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then sliced about 1/2 inch thick
1 16-oz. can red kidney beans
1 Tbs. chili powder
1 15-oz. can garbanzo beans
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 12-oz. can hominy
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles
1 1/2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
minced fresh cilantro
In a large heavy-bottomed pot like a Dutch oven, combine all the canned ingredients, the zucchini and the seasonings, including the onion . Bring to a boil, drop the heat to a simmer, and let cook, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender. Thin as needed with leftover liquid or water. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until it's melted.
Garnish each bowl with cilantro and sour cream, if desired. Serves 8-12.