I ran into a neighbor the other day who was out walking with her three kids. The youngest is a new baby, just about the same age that my new baby was when I decided that something had to give and we’d just have to eat scrambled eggs for the rest of time. (I’d like to be able to say that I gave up on cleaning as well as cooking at that time, but, to be honest, cleaning was never really my thing.)
I offered to bring dinner by, of course. I probably should have offered to come over and do eight loads of laundry instead, but I imagined that my casual acquaintance wouldn’t take me up on that offer. (Or maybe I’m just telling myself that because I’d rather cook than do laundry any day. If someone near and dear to you has a baby, though–especially a third baby–you should TOTALLY offer to do their laundry. They need all the help they can get.)
I’m not necessarily recommending this chili as the ideal food for new parents. It has everything some nursing moms try to avoid: spice, garlic, beans, onions. Some might prefer a soothing lentil soup, or those quinoa cakes, or a tofu enchilada casserole. But this chili is quick to cook and makes plenty to share. And my neighbor was game.
It’s a recipe from the the “red” section of the Ripe cookbook (also the source of that Dal with Curried Red Onion Jam). And when I read the headnote I knew that this recipe and I were meant to be. Because it says that Ripe author Cheryl Sternman Rule adapted the recipe from one that she developed for Eating Well magazine way back when–and you know that she has GOT to be talking about my favorite wheat berry chili. Except that quinoa cooks in 15 minutes instead of an hour and 15 minutes. A brilliant idea for a busy mom on a busy day. I kept my favorite elements of each recipe, of course, cooking the quinoa longer for more chew than crunch, happily piling in the red pepper, replacing red beans with homemade black beans, and squeezing in a few limes at the end.Quinoa Chili with Red Peppers: Over medium-high heat, saute a large diced onion, 2 diced red bell peppers, 5 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tsp. chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Stir occasionally until tender, then add a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, 2 tsp. brown sugar, and 3-4 c. homemade black beans with their cooking liquid plus a cup of stock (OR 2 drained and rinsed cans of black or red beans plus 2 c. stock). Stir in a spoonful of chipotle puree (made by blending the contents of a can of chipotles in adobo until smooth; store the rest in your refrigerator and use indiscriminately). Bring the pot to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add 3/4 c. rinsed quinoa (I used red) and continue cooking until quinoa is soft and its little sprouty ends sproing out, about 20 minutes more. Squeeze in a lime, taste for salt (I wanted a good bit more), and let sit to thicken and cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with avocado, cilantro, salsa, and/or cheese. As you can imagine, this chili is also just dandy over a baked potato.