Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vegan Walnut Chili

How is your week going so far? We have been experiencing some very fall like weather. I would actually call it more of a squall. We've been hit with about 48 hours straight of cold, windy, very wet weather. I've been fighting a bit of a cold, so the climate just makes me want to cozy up under the blankets and sleep. It is nice to have this chili on hand to quickly heat up and serve over some comforting baked potatoes.

As I was looking over past recipes, I came across a few from my "Pinspiring" Menu Post back in March of 2013. In this menu post I had tested out several recipes I had "pinned" but had yet to try. In one of my favorites, the Vegan Taco Salad, I used a lentil and walnut mixture in place of ground beef. I thought, "Why not try the walnuts in the chili?" So, I did. The Bear didn't even know the meat was missing. Besides the fact he had no idea about all of the heart healthy antioxidants and healthy fats he was eating. Winner, winner, meat-free dinner!

The trick to substituting the walnuts for the ground beef is to soak the nuts in water for at least 8 hours or overnight. The nuts absorb some of the water and soften. When lightly processed and simmered in the soup, the texture magically transforms into that of ground meat. These vegans really have some great tricks up their sleeves!

Vegan Walnut Chili

Nonstick cooking spray
2 cups English walnuts, soaked in water for 8 hours or overnight
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can chili beans in chili gravy, undrained
1 15 oz can chili ready diced tomatoes
4 12 oz cans low sodium V8 vegetable juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Add the onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. While the vegetables are softening, drain the walnuts. Pulse in a food processor until the nuts become the consistency of ground meat. Add the nuts to the vegetables. Stir. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Lower the heat to a simmer. Let the chili simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45-60 minutes to let the flavors marry together. Remove from heat. Serve with all of your favorite chili toppings or over baked potatoes with all of your favorite baked potato toppings. This would be a great recipe to accommodate for your vegetarian friends or as a healthy alternative for your family!

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