To Your Health

Happy and Healthy with Roosevelt Island Vegetarian Chili

Updated 3 years ago Peter McCarthy
Vegetarian Food Pyramid / Photo credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons Licence
Vegetarian Food Pyramid / Photo credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons Licence

You don't have to be a vegetarian to love this chili, the recipe created on Roosevelt Island. You only need to have a healthy appetite, appreciate fresh foods and enjoy lush flavors that don't come with a lot of extra calories. Is that you?

Preface notes:

Zucchini is the secret ingredient that makes this recipe work. It adds texture and is nutritionally sound. You'll find yourself making Roosevelt Island Vegetarian Chili, again and again, probably on request.

Do your friends a favor and share.

I've been stirring up and refining this vegetarian chili recipe for 20 years since getting the basic idea from a fellow runner equally interested in fitness without sacrificing great eats. I've tweaked it to perfection and will fill the instructions with suggestions for you to tweak it to best fit you, your friends and family.

One important thing you should know is that, generally speaking, I can't cook worth a damn. I'd never try cooking fish, But I know about a half-dozen recipes, and all are extremely simple, like this one. Even the least experienced can make and enjoy this one.

An added bonus is that it makes a ton of food. Share, freeze some or just cut it in half, if you need less.

All the ingredients are easily available on Roosevelt Island, although for the most spectacular results, you'll want to get your produce at a genuine farmers market, like Union Square.

Ingredients for Roosevelt Island Vegetarian Chili

  • 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 big carrot, grated (Use a food processor, if you can.)
  • Any brightly colored fresh pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 onion big and fresh enough to make your eyes water
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed (I toss mine in the processor with the carrot.)
  • 3 whole zucchini, medium size, grated
  • About 75 oz. tomato sauce. (I use 5 cans of Kirkland canned, because my family avoids seeds and because it's delicious, but I have also used Pomi and Redpack.)
  • 16 oz. of water
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 15 oz. cans of kidney beans, drained

Putting it all together

Put the oil, carrot, pepper, celery, onion and garlic in a big saucepan and sauté for 5 minutes until the mix softens, careful not to let the onion caramelize. I like a caramelized onion. Others may not.

Now add everything else, except the beans.

Notes:

  • Use your own judgment with the chili powder. Use more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat. I add more because my taste buds were honed with suicidal chicken wings in Buffalo.
  • A healthful option is to add turmeric. Turmeric has strong antioxidant properties and is anti inflammatory. The added bonus is that it adds a delicious spiciness like what you get with some Indian foods.
  • As for the tomato sauce. Use anything you like, even simply strained or your own homemade. My brand recommendations are nothing more than what has worked for me.

Bring everything to a low boil and simmer for 30 minutes, longer if you like your chili thicker.

Finally, add the beans and simmer for another 15 minutes. If you like beans, feel free to add a third can. There's room for it.

Serve It Up

I like to spoon out this healthy, low calorie meal right away and let it cool, with all those delicious aromas, at the table. It will feed about 6 people. Even non-vegetarians will not miss the meat.

Cooking time: about 1 hour and 15 minutes, start to finish.

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