Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sneaking Veggies into Dishes

As I've mentioned before, my son doesn't like eating vegetables and it's a real struggle to get any in him.
He's obstinate about not eating them and I know where he gets it from... it's me. I didn't like them either as a kid and used to either stuff them down my throat quickly before I ate the rest of the meal or whine about the quantity that was put in my plate until my mother in exasperation picked them up from my plate and put them in hers. Yes, we didn't throw them out... I grew up in a third world country and my sainted mother would have had to light candles in church if we ever wasted food.
Anyway, the one way I can get my son to eat some veggies is to sneak them into dishes that disguise them well and one-pot dishes are great for that. I especially like shepherd's pie, stews, thai curries and of course chili.
Today's recipe is about chili. Besides the usual bell peppers and tomatoes and onions that usually go into this recipe, I suggest adding finely chopped up shitake mushrooms. They are meaty and when cooked, blend well together with the ground beef so that they are not even discernable, but make for a very healthy chili.

 Chili with 'Sneaky" Vegetables


1 Tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 lb ground beef

6-8 large shitake mushrooms chopped fine or processed to the size of the ground beef

1 tsp salt or to taste

½ tsp pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried basil

1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (coriander) stems

1/2 Tbsp chili powder

½ Tbsp paprika (this will give your chili a vivid red color)

1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

One 28-ounce can peeled tomatoes (Use a good quality one here)

1 cup beef stock or ½ beef bouillon dissolved in a cup of water

One 28-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed




Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat

Add the onions, green pepper and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes

Add the cumin, and stir for a minute until you get the aroma from the toasted cumin

Add the meat to the pan, season with the salt and pepper and brown well

Add the chopped shitake mushrooms and continue to brown

Add the tomato paste, the rest of the spices and the canned tomatoes

Smash the whole tomatoes down using a potato masher

Add the beef stock

Stir in the kidney beans

Cook the chili covered for 15 minutes on medium-low heat

1. It is worth taking the time to toast the cumin. In fact, when I have time, I toast whole cumin seeds separately and then grind them up to add to dishes. Chili is meant to have a smoky flavor and the toasted cumin helps with this.
2. My family can take heat, so I often add more chilies, you should adjust to your own taste. Note that paprika does not add much heat, but it does add a lot of flavor and color, so don't skimp on it, cut the chilies instead.
3. You can serve this over rice, or as a hearty soup, with your choice of toppings. I like cheese, green onions and diced avocado on mine!

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