Vegetarian Variations

by Jane Butelâ„¢

We are all "abuzz" preparing for our Traditional Weekend Class with Vegetarian Variations next weekend, April 24-26, 2009.  For each meat laden dish, we will prepare the vegetarian variationl We will be making the Vegetarian Chili out of my Chili Madness cookbook, which by the way, won the best vegetarian chili recipe in a contest conducted by the New York Times Sunday magazine. (See the recipe below.) Of course, we will also be making the traditional Bowl 'o Red with Fixin's 'n Mixin's. 

Also, we will be making eggplant adovado in addition to the carne adovado and vegetarian posole with seared vegetables in addition to the traditional carmelized pork version. 

I love teaching the classes and watch relationships bond--it is always so much fun.  Also, in the over 20 years I have been teaching the classes, I am always pleased  to see how many of us still stay in touch and many have returned up to five times...which is wonderful to me.

If you can get away, we would love to welcome you as we still have a few openings--and to fit in with the economic crunch, I have made them half price or just $525.00....just about what I charged in 1985 when I started the weekend schools in my home in Woodstock, NY.  You can register by clicking cooking schools on our Home Page,  


 What to do when vegetarian friends or relatives are coming to dinner? Good news--they need not go chili-less. This recipe provides the good taste of chili plus the benefit of complete protein derived from the beans and the bulgur. Its also full of flavorful, healthful vegetables; onions, garlic, celery, carrots, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Serve this brew topped with grated cheese for additional protein and flavor.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 ½ cups dried kidney beans, soaked over night in water to cover

3 teaspoons salt

1 cup tomato juice

1 cup raw bulgur (see Note)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 medium-size onions, coarsely chopped

4 medium-size cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

3 carrots, coarsely chopped

3 or 4 tomatoes, peeled seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons ground hot red chile

3 Tablespoons ground mild red chile

1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided.

½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ green bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped

4 ounces queso blanco or feta cheese, crumbled, for serving (optional)

  • 1. Drain the kidney beans, place them in a large heavy pot, and add water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer the beans, partially covered, until tender, about 1 hour. Watch the water level and add more water, if necessary, to keep the beans from scorching.
  • 2. Meanwhile, place the tomato juice in another saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it has reached a boil, immediately remove it from the heat and add the bulgur. Cover and let stand until the bulgur softens but is still slightly crunchy, 15 minutes.
  • 3. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in celery, carrots, tomatoes, lemon juice, ground chiles, oregano, basil, ½ teaspoon of the cumin, black pepper to taste, and the remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are nearly tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers, cover, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  1. Add the kidney beans, the water in which they cooked, and the bulgur to the vegetable. Stir the mixture thoroughly, cover the pot, and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the bulgur does not stick to the bottom of the pot, for 30 minutes. The chili may be thick-add more water as necessary.
  1. Taste the chili and adjust the seasonings as needed. Ladle the chili into bowls and sprinkle the cheese on top, if desired.

Note: Bulgur is available at some supermarkets and most health food stores. If bulgur is not available, cracked wheat can be substituted.