Cashew Chili

The first time I ever had cashew chili was back in the late 1970’s at the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. I’ve never forgotten just how good it tasted and how a simple twist can change a meat-based classic into something deliciously vegan.

I’m not sure if this is the recipe the Moosewood chef used, but it works for me (with inspiration from 150 Vegan Favorites by Jay Solomon). This recipe is also great to make in a crockpot and bring to your next pot luck dinner.

Yields: 6-8 servings

1 tbs. canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalepeño or serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup cashews, (pieces or whole; roasted, unsalted if available)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz. can red kidney beans (no need to drain or rinse)
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes (sometimes we find them with adobo seasoning)
1½ tbs. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cayenne
½ tsp. salt (we always use sea salt when available)

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, garlic and chili pepper for about 5 minutes. Add all the spices and stir them around until they are well integrated into the sauté. Add all the tomatoes and beans, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. A few minutes before serving, stir the cashew pieces into the chili – their late arrival helps to keep them nice and crunchy when served (although I doubt anyone will complain when they warm some up the next day 😉

Serve in bowls with some nice corn bread (perhaps with sweet corn nibblets and minced red and/or green hot/or sweet peppers stirred into the batter before baking). Enjoy!

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