I don't know what the weather's like where you are, but for those of us in the Northeastern part of the US, fall has well and truly arrived. Sure, it likes to pretend it's not really here by throwing a few 75-degree days at us and looking all sunny, but those frost warnings at night give it away. The next thing you know, all the trees erupt in color and farmer's markets and farm stands sprout a multitude of squashes and root veggies. Fall also marks the transition from summer salads and pilafs to heartier fare that can drive the chill away. What better to warm up with than spicy chipotle chilies, offset by the satisfying flavor of sweet potatoes? I'm a big fan of spicy/sweet combinations, and this chili has a great balance of both. The addition of black beans adds contrast while bringing an earthy flavor to the dish. Green bell pepper and diced tomatoes complete the colorful collection of ingredients, making a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Just a pinch of smoked paprika accentuates the flavor of the chipotles for a delicious finish. Since seeing Forks Over Knives, I've dispensed with oil as a cooking medium. I find that a good set of non-stick pans and a few splashes of water here and there ensures that everything cooks without sticking. The finished product is just as delicious as its oil-containing counterparts with the added bonus of feeling lighter and not damaging your arteries!
Chipotle Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili [Vegan]
- 2 dried chipotle chilies
- 1 cup yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Water, as needed
- Soak the chipotle chills in hot water for about an hour. Once soft, chop them and set aside. Reserve the soaking liquid.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion and pepper until the onion is just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add small splashes of water to the pan to keep the vegetables from sticking.
- Add the garlic and chopped chipotles and cook for 1 minute more. Add the chili powder, cumin and sweet potatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to coat the potatoes with the spices.
- Pour in the tomatoes with their liquid, the reserved chipotle soaking water and just enough water to cover the vegetable mixture. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.
- Add the beans and taste for seasonings. Adjust accordingly, add the smoked paprika and cook 10 minutes more, uncovered, to blend the flavors. Serve alone, with sprouted bread, or over your favorite grain.