Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vegetarian Chili and Flour(less) Tortillas on a Rainy Autumn Day

For the first time it has really felt like fall. Last week it was chilly and there were a couple pleasant rainstorms here and there. These are the kind of days when it is so nice to cook warming foods like soup, stew and chili- the kinds of foods that celebrate the season's bounty in a comforting, simple way. 

It was actually not until recently that I discovered there is a difference between chili and chile. Growing up in New Mexico, I have become so used to the typical state question "red or green?" It is a known fact that chile is on the menu in pretty much every single eating place around here, from fast food joints to high scale restaurants. So naturally I grew up loving red chile (a sauce made from hot red chile peppers, garlic and occasionally some other spices) and green chile (green chile peppers chopped up, occasionally made into a sauce) slathered on top of everything from enchiladas to pizza.

I did not know of the soupy concoction-"chili"- usually containing meat and sometimes mildly spiced with chipotle, that is so common throughout the rest of the country. And when I found out about it, I was not really interested. You could say in some ways I was a chilE snob :)

But now that I am on a mission to increase my food repertoire, I have forced myself to become less of a chile snob. I thought that I would try making my own variation of chili with vegetables and chickpeas in place of the meat. And I loved it. I loved the tomato-y, slightly smoky chipotle flavor, the butternut squash and the crisp green bell pepper. Sure, its not really spicy, but it is still fantastic.

Besides chile, another staple that I could not live without is the flour tortilla. When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, I decided to try a store bought variety. They were the texture of stiff paper. Not so appealing. I knew I had to try making them at once!

I was so pleased to come across a fantastic gluten free tortilla recipe by Jane Butel, an internationally renowned leading authority on the cuisine of the southwest. She has her own cooking school in New Mexico, several cookbooks, and numerous other accomplishments in the culinary field.   

Her recipe makes light, fluffy, bendable tortillas. I love making a large batch and freezing them so that I can whip them out at any time. I generally make them large and thin so that I can use them to assemble burritos. The ones that I have pictured in this post are slightly smaller and thicker- perfect beside a bowl of chili or soup.

So here is to more rainy autumn days, bundling up, taking walks under the boughs of brilliantly colored leaves, hot tea, baking, and lots more flavorful warming dishes.

Rainy Day Vegetarian Chili

1 small butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, 1/2" dice
1 15oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 26oz. can chopped tomatoes (I used Italian Pomi brand)
1 can tomato paste
1- 1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 chipotle chiles, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chipotle sauce
*note: some would consider this too much spice- start with less and add more if you like
salt and pepper, to taste

Serve With:

plain Greek yogurt
toasted pumpkin seeds
fresh chives

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and dice the butternut squash. Spread the pieces out on a baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast until tender and cooked through.
2. In a deep, large saucepan, saute the onion, shallots and green pepper in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, until they begin to caramelize.
3. Add the squash, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 cup of water, oregano, chipotle chiles, and chipotle sauce. Season with salt and pepper and simmer chili until cooked through. Add a little more water if it becomes too thick.
4. To serve, spoon chili into a bowl, top with a dollop of Greek yogurt, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and garnish with chives.

Recipe from the kitchen of Cirque Du Souffle :)

Flour(less) Tortillas (GF)
makes about 6 tortillas 8-inches in diameter

1 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup fava bean flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks or other shortening
3/4 - 1 cup warm water

1. Combine all of the dry ingredients, then cut in or work in the shortening using a pastry blender or two knives.
2. Add the warm water, starting with 3/4 cup and mix well.
3. Continue to add water until a soft, cohesive dough is formed
4. Heat a comal, tapa or griddle to medium heat. Then, form a ball of dough into a flattened dish, cupping the outside edges a bit to form a round.
5. Dust a work surface with corn starch and, using a rolling pin, roll into a round disk about 1/8 inch thick and about 8 inches in diameter or to your preference.
6. Bake one at a time on the hot griddle until the surface bubbles. Turn only once, the first side should have brown flecks. Bake until the second side has slightly browned
8. Keep tortillas warm by wrapping them in a cloth until ready to serve.

Recipe very slightly adapted from Jane Butel via Heidi of Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom

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