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Summer Red Bell Pepper Chili

Debra Redalia

 

Red bell pepper chili heated up with precooked organic brown rice makes a great one-dish meal.

Chili is one of those basic dishes that you can make a million different ways and they all taste good. It is basically cooked beans with a lot of vegetables, spices, and often meat,

This chili I only make during the summer because it gets its gentle spice from ripe red bell peppers that are in season now and at the peak of their flavor.

I was astonished the first time I made this. I was just using up red bell peppers that happened to be in the refrigerator. Before I added the hot chilies, I tasted it and loved the red bell pepper flavor that is mostly sweet and a little bit hot itself.

So now I make this all summer. Just like this.

First you need some beans. I strongly encourage you to cook your own beans because they taste so much better and don’t go through the industrial process. Go to th”e bulk department of your local natural food store and choose a red bean. It might be called “kidney bean” or “chili bean.” They come in different sizes, small and medium, either is fine. I generally cook 2 cups of dry beans and that makes a the right amount beans to make chili that fills my 4 1/2 quart pot. Just rinse the beans before cooking, look for and remove any bits of debris, then put them in the pot and cover with a lot of water. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and simmer for an hour or two. They will be done when there is no resistance to the bite but are still firm. Drain the cooking water and set aside until you are ready to make the chili. I just make it right away in the same pot.

To the beans in the pot, add vegetables. Clean and chop onions of any color and size, carrots, and celery. I always add whole garlic cloves as well because I love the sweet bite when I encounter one in the chili (use a whole head if you want, they get very mellow in the cooking). Cover with water and get everything cooking then add a lot of mushrooms of any type (we use button mushrooms or hen-of-the-woods, which are very meaty). Then clean and chop 3 red bell peppers and add them to the pot.

Add 1 jar of organic pasta sauce and stir it in.

Let all this simmer 1 hour or more. Continue to add water as needed to keep everything covered with liquid. The longer you cook it, the better it tastes and the thicker it will get. You’ll know when it’s ready. Taste. Add more water if needed.

If you make this ahead and put it in the refrigerator overnight its will taste even better. You can also freeze it.

When you serve it, top it with chopped green onion, avocado, tomatoes, grated cheese, or whatever toppings you like on chili. We like to eat our chili with organic whole corn tortillas. Add some fresh lettuce and make a burrito if you want.