There are few winter staples for non-meat eaters that approach the heartiness of vegetarian chili. The recipe is basic (beans, tomato sauce, and whatever vegetables you have around), the ingredients are cheap, the calories are low, and it lasts for days in the fridge, always running out before going bad. But while making a decent chili is easy, making an exceptional one is no easy feat. For those on the lookout for standout recipes for the bean-based dish, you might check out Tracey Medeiros’ vegan chili, a recipe for which is in her new cookbook The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook.
Nothing too fancy, Medeiros’ recipe is taken from the City Market Onion River Co-op in Vermont, and it uses a relatively short ingredient list to make a dynamite (levels of dynamite adjustable through moderated use of jalapeños) chili, which non-vegans might find tastes even better with a dollop of yogurt and some sharp cheddar cheese.
Medeiros, a former food columnist for two Vermont newspapers and the author of 2009’s Dishing Up Vermont, is no newbie in the farm-to-table movement. “Good food grown in a responsible way, and my desire to help promote wellness for communities through food have always been important to me,” she says, adding that this has been “a lifelong purpose.” But you don’t have to be a true believer in the good food mission to enjoy the cookbook. “It’s designed to fit into any kitchen library,” she says. “Any individual with a taste for healthy, wholesome foods that are grown in a process that supports and nurtures the earth will especially enjoy the cookbook.”
Seasonal cooks will love the cookbook’s fall recipes including Moroccan-style chicken with apricots and almonds served on a bed of Mediterranean couscous pilaf, the butternut apple crisp, and the amber ale-braised Highland beef chuck roast. For the dead of winter, when there’s next to zero local produce available in New York, Medeiros recommends looking for root crops. “Many local farmers have root cellars, which allows for the storing of a variety of crops such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, winter squashes, beets, onions, and garlic,” she says.
Of course, it’s easy to forget to cook in New York at all. Or to plan to cook only to realize that it’s 8 p.m., and there’s nothing in the fridge, freezer, or cabinets, even when the farmers’ markets are right down the block. Medeiros hopes her cookbook–full of comfort foods like buttermilk doughnuts and creamy Camembert cheese and potato soup with black pepper croutons–will lure us back to the kitchen. You may even be tempted to take a weekend jaunt to the Green Mountain State, which has a lot more to offer in the way of culinary arts than just maple syrup.
Medeiros will help New Yorkers cook face to face, too: Join her tonight at the Bowery Culinary Center at Whole Foods Market from 7 to 9 p.m. Her tasting and demonstration includes a number of recipes from the cookbook including farm fresh quiche, massaged kale salad with Asian peanut butter dressing, sautéed sea scallops with smoked bacon and maple cream sauce, and Cheryl’s organic oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies. The event costs $18; reserve a spot on the Whole Foods website.