What’s Cooking: bean & kale chili

Once again, there are ingredients in my fridge that need to be used up soon. This is the problem with single living. Fresh food like vegetables and fruits are really hard to keep long. Last night, I took out a bunch of kale and “massaged it” in cold water. I let it sit most of the night to dry off. I still have left overs from the chili last night and am low on Rubbermaid containers for freezing.

So, what to do for dinner tonight? I have two pounds of ground beef that I need to use up as well. When I shop for groceries, I stock up on frozen and canned goods. But it’s the fresh things like cheese, milk, yogurt – that I find I run out of fast.

Last night, I sifted through my Lazy-Susan and was surprised that cans of beans I bought last year still hadn’t expired. I found some gems in there. Pork beans, Lima beans, kidney beans, black beans and tomato paste. All the ingredients needed for a good bean dip or chili. A bunch of kale provides enough kale for a couple of main dishes. So, I think this recipe that I just made up in my head might work well for dinner.

The picture below is a chili that I made last year – minus the kale. It was fantastic. No need to add stock or water – just use some of the juices from the can of beans. But not all – otherwise it will become too runny.


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Ingredients

  • 1 package of lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1 cup of celery diced
  • 1 cup of mushrooms diced
  • 1 cup of frozen corn
  • 1-2 cups of fresh kale (massaged & dried)
  • 1 cup of grated cheese
  • A few drops of olive oil or vegetable oil
  • Optional: spicy red peppers (I skip this – can’t do spicy)

Beans

  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of pork beans
  • 1 can of Lima beans
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 can of crushed or stewed tomatoes
  • OR you can use a can of six bean medley
  • 1 tbsp of ketchup
  • 1 tbsp of Worcester sauce
  • Seasoning: salt, black pepper, red chili flakes, paprika, garlic, oregano
  • Make sure to drain the cans of beans or chili will be too runny. If using pork beans, the juice from that should be enough for the chili.

Preparation

There are several ways to prepare chili. I tend to prefer stove-top cooking for my chili but you can also use a slow-cooker. This recipe will walk you through the steps for stove-top cooking. It doesn’t take long or much effort at all.

  • Using medium heat, add a few drops of olive or vegetable oil to a large skillet. Heat up the skillet and add the diced onions and mushrooms. Season with salt, black pepper and garlic. Cook until onions are tender. Transfer to a separate bowl while cooking the beef.
  • Using the same skillet, cook the ground beef until meat is brown. Add in the onions and mushrooms you just fried up. Add in your choice of seasoning. I find red chili flakes, black pepper, salt and oregano work well.
  • Cook on medium heat for several meat before transferring to a large pot.
  • The pot you use should be large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add in the rest of the ingredients except the cheese and kale. Mix well. Add seasoning to taste. You can top it off with a bay leaf if desired. Cook for about 15-20 minutes on low heat.
  • Add in the kale and cook an additional 5-10 minutes. Or until all vegetables are tender.
  • Let the chili settle for a few minutes before serving. In this time, you can grate the cheese for the topping.
  • As always, season to taste. You can add in spicy peppers or black peppercorn.

Serving

When I make this dish, I usually have enough left-overs for several meals. Chili dishes tend to freeze very well and can keep in a sealed container for several months in the freezer. This recipe is extremely versatile. You can choose your own spices and seasoning. Try using different kinds of beans other than those I listed. I just use whatever I happen to have on hand. Chili can be deserved in a variety of ways.

A bean based chili can be paired with any of the following foods:

  • use as a taco filler and top off with sour cream and grated cheese
  • use as a bean dip for French bread or nachos
  • or serve it with a side of delicious basil and grilled goat cheese sandwich


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