Meatless Monday: Zucchini Chili
Renee Comet, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.
Meatless Monday is a global movement, a way of life. Eating less meat has been proven to reduce the risk of disease, curb obesity and has important environmental impacts, too. Will you join us in giving up meat, just for one day a week?
Fall can be so confusing. It's hot out, it's cold out, and each shorter day seems to taunt us with memories of late evening sunshine that has faded all too quickly. It's a bummer. But instead of being haters, let's consider the season's upsides, like superb vegetables that weren't quite ready in August. Take advantage of these last warmish days by stocking up on almost-over-ripe tomatoes or eggplants the size of forearms. Eat corn. Ignore apples. Or, grab a few enormous zucchinis and make this too-hearty-for-summer vegetarian chili. Loaded with beans and best alongside spinach-laced rice, this meat-free meal can be served hot or room temperature, making it perfect for the in-between days.
1 1/2 pounds firm small to medium-size zucchini, chopped into small dice
Toppers to choose from: crushed tortillas or warm soft tortillas, sour cream, shredded cheeses, scallions or finely chopped onions, lime wedges
Char the skins of the poblano chiles by placing them over a gas burner or under a hot broiler with the oven door slightly cracked. Turn the chiles until the skins are black. Remove and cool the chiles in a tightly covered bowl, then peel and finely chop or process into coarse puree in food processor.
Heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat and add zucchini, onions, garlic, hot pepper, cumin, coriander, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper, stir frequently for 10 minutes. Add in the tomato paste, and stir 1 minute more. Deglaze the pan with beer, stir in poblanos and beans and about half of the stock, bring to a bubble then reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes to combine flavors. Cool completely, cover and store for make-ahead meal. Reheat over medium heat.
While the chili reheats make the rice. Melt the butter in a saucepot over medium heat and add the rice, toast a minute or 2, then stir in 1 1/2 cups stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook covered, over low heat 15 minutes.
To food processor, add the spinach, cilantro, if using, and a little salt, and pulse into a fine paste. Stir the paste into the rice after 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the rice stand another 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve in shallow bowls with zucchini chili and toppings of choice to garnish.