Valentine’s Day. We meet again.
So it’s that time of the year where love is in the air, flowers are being picked and arranged for bouquets, cards look super lovey-dovey, and extra chocolates are stacked on shelves. Oh yeah, and then we have all the single folks who fall into two extremes: they either bury their face in a tub of Nutella or party…party HARD.
You’ll see what I do on Valentine’s Day on my Instagram. Well, as if you’re interested in the first place, but just for some measure. Speaking of Instagram, my feed has been flooded with Valentine’s Day recipes of gourmet desserts including chocolate cakes, red velvet cupcakes, raspberry chocolate fudge, cocoa truffles, chocolate-dipped strawberries, heart-shaped cookies, basically any kind of sweet treat!
Though I have a serious, serious sweet tooth, I present an unlikely savory dish to the Valentine’s Day table. Desserts are sexy, but the meaningful conversations happen over the course of the actual dinner, whether it be fanciful pasta or Chinese takeout. Relationships blossom with time, effort, honesty, trust, affection, laughter, tears, love, and even the occasional healthy arguments. I feel like too much emphasis is imposed on the visually aesthetic highlights of a relationship–the first kiss, the engagement ring, the wedding, the baby, and not enough on the bulk where the two partners actually bond on an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual level. In other words, Valentine’s Day is a little too dessert-y. But can you really have too much chocolate?
Anyhow, back to the star of this post: vegan chili! I did cook a hearty tomato vegetable stew a year ago, and it’s back with a vengeance in the form of this stupendous creation. What makes this chili stupendous? It’s flavorful, spicy, warming, satisfying, beautiful, chock full of vegetables, and loaded with fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and antioxidants! Oh yeah, and it pairs incredibly with rice and bread.
In particular, I love the light garden spinach wraps from FlatOut Bread. Believe it or not, this chili is so thick that you can even put it on toast! However, you are more than welcome to add vegetable stock if you want a soup-like chili, which is more traditional.
And if you’re wondering:
- No, I did NOT forget any chocolate in this recipe.
- Yes, I WILL be enjoying chocolate on Valentine’s Day. LOTS of it.
RECIPE (serves 4)
- 8 ounces of diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, or a blend; approximately one large can
- 1 cup of vegetable stock (optional, but thins out the chili)
- 1 pound of eggplant, cubed
- 1/2 pound of spinach
- 14 ounces of garbanzo beans or any other beans of choice, approximately one standard-sized can; you can also use freshly cooked beans
- 8 ounces of broccoli, chopped
- 8 ounces of cauliflower, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 onion, chopped; can use any variety, but yellow or white onions are my personal favorite for this recipe
- 1 TBSP chili seasoning
- 2 tsp pure cocoa or cacao powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- Salt and pepper to taste; I recommend garlic salt for this recipe!
- Garnishes: cilantro, parsley, avocado, corn, pepper, dairy free cheese, nutritional yeast, Sriracha, crispy tortilla strips, etc.
- First drain the chickpeas from the can. Rinse the beans thoroughly through a strainer.
- Note: save the aquafaba, which is the liquid from the can! You can use it for other recipes in the future!
- Heat a large pot on medium heat. Spray with cooking spray, olive oil, coconut oil, or any non-stick material if the pot is not non-stick.
- When the bottom of the pot is warm enough, stir-fry the garlic until it begins to jump.
- Once the garlic jumps, immediately add the onions. Cook until transluscent.
- Add in the eggplant and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggplant is semi-cooked.
- Evenly stir in the diced and/or crushed tomatoes, chickpeas, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Cover the pot with a lid and lower the heat to a simmer.
- Let stew for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will know it’s done when the eggplant is thoroughly cooked and the broccoli and cauliflower are soft.
- Serve warm, or keep as leftovers for 4-5 days.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Enjoy it with your significant other, your friends, or by yourself, because after all, you deserve so much love!