2019,  Diary of a Non-Cook,  Food

Diary of a Non-Cook: Paleo Veggie Chili, NO Beans

Le Cruset is to the kitchen, as Lululemon is to the gym.

This winter weather has me craving all the warm things, coupled with trying to make healther food choices + cooking more often. I’m honestly trying to find the joy in cooking. So when I feel the desire too, I’m going with it. No hesitations, just taking it in stride.

I really wanted a chili recipe that I enjoy. It is hard to find it the way I like — sans beans. So, of course, I ran straight to Pinterest to find a recipe. Sunday’s dinner came to you via the following Pinterest search: chili, no bean, ground turkey. A bunch of things came up and I was stuck between two pins: this and this.

In the end, Laura Fuentes’ recipe for ALL MEAT VEGGIE CHILI – PALEO CHILI won! I don’t eat a specific way and I especially don’t eat paleo, but I can appreciate the healthier aspects of eating this way. I made the decision to use this recipe as I was navigating my cart through Trader Joe’s, gathering all the necessities.

Image from Laura Fuentes blog

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, diced, about 1 large onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery, about 1 stalk
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, peeled and diced, about 4 medium carrots
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 cups zucchinis, diced, about 2-3 medium zucchinis
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato puree or tomato sauce
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

This list seems long. Because it is. But I had all of the spices, so that made it pretty easy. I also had the cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. I took a gamble on if I had them, but I was pretty sure they were nestled in the cabinet. I decided against celery because I feel like it is way too crunchy and brings no nutritional value to the table. All the produce were actually purchased from Trader Joe’s, which yes, is somewhat surprising. Their produce selection is not my fave, so at times, I avoid shopping for it there. But you can’t really mess up an onion, carrots, and zucchinis, right?

As it was dumping buckets on Saturday, I braved the store so I could gather everything I need and prep the shit out of it all. I didn’t want to prep and cook all in the same afternoon. I had somewhat busy days with erroneous errands that needed to be done. Since I had the extra time on Saturday, I stayed in and prepped the chili ingredients, made zucchini muffins, and a batch of green smoothies. Yeah, who am I?

I’ve found that measuring out spices beforehand saves so much time, for any recipe you are making! It really is helpful for baking too. Also, if you find a good taco seasoning mix, you can pre-make multiple batches and have readily available for whenever you have taco/nacho night!

I figured I was making a mess in the kitchen with the zucchini bread, why not just do all the veggies in one fell swoop? So, my hand be damned, I peeled and chopped the carrots, then cut all the onions and zucchini. I organized them in Tupperware according to how I was supposed to cook them the next day. Since this recipe did not call for simmering for multiple hours on end, I was scared the flavor would not set right. So I also opened the canned tomatoes and added additional spices — garlic powder, pepper, and sea salt, so it could sit overnight. I didn’t measure any of those spices, I just threw it in with the tomato sauce mixture.

The idea of making chili also made me instantly excited to finally use my Le Cruset dutch oven. It was a Amazon Treasure Truck pick-up awhile back, that I bought on sheer desire. No actual need. It was going to be involved in the chili making, I was determined.

Sunday rolled around in a blurr of messy rain and wind. I was busy all day and came home to take a nap first, but ended up deciding to make the chili and then let it simmer while I napped and waited for Hollywood to join us for dinner.

This recipe actually reminds you to use a cast iron skillet, to hold the flavor. My guess is especially since it doesn’t require the chili simmer for that long, this type of pan can hold the flavor intact. Also, probably because the veggies would become a soggy mess if it was to simmer for hours, like many other chili recipes. So, my thought was to let the tomato mixture simmer in the Le Cruset, while I cooked everything else.

I essentially followed the recipe — started with cooking the ground turkey and onions, then dumped that into the tomato mixture. Then I cooked the onions and carrots for a bit, then added the zucchini. I had sooo many veggies, my Le Cruset had me a little worried. I essentially added as much of the veggie mixture as I could, before the pot would overflow. I put the lid on and turned off the stove to let it sit while I napped for a bit. I left the extra veggies in a Tupperware, I wasn’t going to waste them.

A L L the colors!

Hollywood was so sweet and offered to bring the final touch, cornbread! She even brought two, one with jalapenos and one without, for me of course. I also made sure to buy a block of sharp cheddar cheese, so I could grate it to sprinkle over our fresh, delicious bowls of chili. I’ve seen people add sour cream too, which I had on hand, but no one wanted to use it.

It turned out to be such a lovely warm dish for a cold, cold January Sunday evening. I’m not usually one who cares about warm food for cold days, but this day just worked. We popped a bottle of Coppola, because Red goes with Chili, right?

I always get anxious when I cook for others. I tend to be okay with more of a bland taste because I don’t want to overload dishes with salt — I’ve become weird and worried about my cholesterol and high blood pressure, due to genetics. So, I get nervous that it won’t be flavorful enough for everyone else. But everyone gave rave reviews. Using the rainbow colored carrots was a hit, even though it confused everyone at first. Also, the large chunks of veggies intrigued everyone too! I loved the meat to veggie to soup ratio. I chose the right recipe for how I enjoy chili, and it was a winner accross the board.

Not for the bean lovers!

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