There are few pairings in life better than chili and cornbread—especially when it's freezing cold outside. And while many restaurants add chili to their wintertime soup rotation, it's not always of the vegetarian variety.
The good news? Making veggie chili from scratch is simple (3 steps!), satisfying, and endlessly customizable. (You're probably getting tired of us saying that, but the best recipes are ones you can tweak to your own liking!) And while I do have a go-to veggie chili recipe, I decided to branch out and try a new one this week. Man, am I glad I did, because this veggie chili is unbelievably tasty. It's spicy, warming, and packed with flavor—and it freezes well so you can enjoy it all winter.
What I love about this recipe is the variety of fresh, colorful veggies involved. I typically use onions, bell peppers and celery in chili, but this recipe also calls for carrots, zucchini, and a jalapeño pepper. Oh, and there's quinoa in it! Which makes the whole dish more robust and filling.
Now, onto these corn muffins. I think it was a sign from the cornbread gods that the night I was planning on making veggie chili, Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for the "perfect corn muffins." I was powerless to her photos of the gorgeous, fluffy muffins—and the results were even better than I expected.
What's unique about these muffins is that you cook a bit of the cornmeal with milk until thickened, giving the muffins an extra tender crumb. Moist and fluffy on the inside with a golden, cracked top, these muffins are truly to die for. It took everything in me not to eat every single one warm from the oven.
If that's not perfection in a muffin, I don't know what is.
I topped my chili with parsley, avocado, and oyster crackers, but shredded cheese, green onions, or plain Greek yogurt would also be divine. Serve with a warmed and buttered cornbread muffin for the ultimate vegetarian wintertime meal.
Quinoa Vegetarian Chili
Serves 5 (can be easily doubled)
- 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed (or use a blend—I used a blend of israeli couscous, orzo, and red quinoa)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeño pepper, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 1/2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1-1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, depending on your taste for spice
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- salt and black pepper, to taste
Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and zucchini. Cook until vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes.
Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in the cooked quinoa. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Simmer chili on low for about 30 minutes. Serve warm, with toppings of your choice.
Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod.
Makes 6 muffins (can be easily doubled)
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons 2 percent or whole milk
- 1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 large egg
Heat oven to 425°F. Grease or line a muffin tin with liners.
Whisk together 3/4 cup cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Combine the milk and the remaining 1/4 cup cornmeal in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Cook the mixture until it thickens into a batter-like consistency, whisking constantly. As Deb describes it, you'll know it's ready when the whisk leaves a clear line across the bottom of the pan that slowly fills in. Remove from heat.
Add the melted butter, then the sugar, and then the yogurt to the cooked cornmeal until combined. (I did this all in the saucepan, but feel free to transfer to a large mixing bowl). If the mixture is still hot, let it cool for a few minutes. Whisk in the egg. Pour the mixture into the flour mixture and fold everything together until combined. The batter will be very thick, even scoopable. Divide the batter among the muffin cups—it should mound slightly above the rim.
Bake until tops are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 13-14 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let muffins cool for a few minutes, then serve warm.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.