Vegetarian chili always sounds good in principle but never delivers on its promise. The 30th in our series of chilis tries to score a victory for the carnivorously-challenged. My motivation for this is two-fold. First, a junior ITP member and well decorated trail runner had received, as a race premium, a carnival squash. Said squash has migrated back and forth across our tiny kitchen since October. It had been bounced off the floor more times than Lindsay Lohan has bounced out of rehab. It was time to get rid of it. Second, I was pondering the nature of the mathematical truism that two negatives make a positive. I don’t like winter squash, nor do I care for black beans. What if in combining them I synthesize something wonderful? To be honest I had my doubts. The last time I tried to create something good from the sum of two things bad, I ended up indescribably nauseous and with a foul tasting veneer-like coating holding my taste buds in a death-grip. Probably should have seen it coming, as fizzy, cloying, pink, generic cream soda and Sno Shoe Grog* were never (ever) meant to be together.
*Footnote- For those not acquainted with the “vagrant” section of the liquor store, Sno Shoe Grog is a blend of Brandy and Peppermint Schnapps. It is completely repellent, clearly the work of a band of evil misanthropes at the Phillips Beverage Company. NEVER buy this for a camping trip and DO NOT mix it 1:1 with crushingly-sweet cream soda.
3C winter squash peeled and cut into cubes
½ C pineapple juice
15.5 oz can of black beans, drained
14.5 oz can chopped tomato, don’t drain
1C vegetable juice
1 T sliced fresh banana pepper
1t garlic pepper seasoning
2 T chili powder
¼ C onion diced
½ t Chinese 5 spice powder
1 oz block sweetened baking chocolate
Place ingredients in slow cooker. Set on low. Cook for 9 hours.
Serve with sour cream.
Peeling winter squash is not fun. The entire time I was wrestling with this mess, I was thinking of how nice it would be to be cutting up meat. I (or someone who knows what the hell they’re doing) could have boned an entire deer carcass in the same time it took me to prep this one pound squash.
The junior members of the ITP were not thrilled with this dish. Too bad the little ones didn’t care for it. I understand that squash keeps the fingers nimble. All the better for them, as they take 14 hour shifts sewing garments in our basement. From my perspective, there were a number of interesting and exciting flavors in each spoonful of chili. This served to distract me from the fact that I was not having meat. Additionally, it produced no vile veneer on my tongue. I guess that would make this a good vegetarian chili.