Tag Archives: chipotle

Grilled Corn, Sweet Potato, Black-Bean Salad with Cilantro Dressing

 

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Man, Mondays blow. Especially after epic summer weekends! If you could use something yummy to pick you up, this dish will do the trick.

So you guys know that I usually only publish my original concoctions, but this recipe that my friend gave me (thank you, Bonnie!) is so delicious and awesome that I have to share it. This gorgeous, healthy, nutrient-packed, summery vegan “potato salad” is oil-free, refreshing yet filling, yummy-beyond-words and totally unique.  The sweet potato provides a silky, flavorful foundation, while the grilled corn and chipotle give it a slightly smoky and caramelized flavor, which is perfectly balanced with the black beans and the sunny, herbaceous cilantro dressing. Not only is it tasty, but it’s also really good for you – the sweet potatoes are the best source of beta-carotene around (which strengths your immune system, gives you healthy skin and keeps your eyes happy), the beans are loaded with protein, and the corn has oodles of antioxidants. This makes a great meal or side dish.  And it’s super convenient since it can be made ahead and served cold, at room temp, or packed up for a picnic or potluck. Oh yeah, and it’s also gluten-free. I am IN LOVE with this salad. I bet you’ll like it as much as I do!

Grilled Corn, Sweet Potato, Black-Bean Salad with Cilantro Dressing

From fridge to table: about 20 minutes
Serves: about 10-12 as a side dish

roasted corn

1 clove garlic
2 tsp blended chipotle sauce*
1 small shallot, minced
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks (if you want a colorful salad, use garnet yams)
4 ears corn, husked
1 can whole black beans, rinsed and drained
4 scallions (white and green parts) thinly sliced

* The original recipe (by Associated Press) called for a lot more chipotle – like enough for my tongue to spontaneously combust, detach from my mouth and dive into a pool for relief – so I adjusted it down. Oh, and to make the chipotle “sauce,” get a can of “chipotle in adobo sauce,” which you can find in the Hispanic food aisle at the grocery store, and whirl the contents in a blender. I like to freeze the blended sauce in ice cube trays for easy future use.

First, make the dressing. Use a blender to whirl together the garlic, chipotle sauce, shallot, cilantro and rice vinegar and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a medium pot with steamer basket, boil a little bit of water, add the sweet potatoes, cover and steam until tender, which takes about 8 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and immediately toss them with half of the salad dressing (to soak up the goodness of all that lovely herbal flavor), then set aside to cool.

Heat your grill to medium and lightly mist the corn with a cooking oil spray. Grill the corn evenly until the kernels are golden and tender. Remove from grill and cool until you can handle the corn without lighting your fingers on fire. Placing the fat end of the corn on your cutting board, slice the kernels from the cob. Then add the corn to the potatoes, along with the black beans and scallions. Pour the remaining dressing on top (to taste) and blend well. Then stuff your face with this yummy dish, and don’t feel guilty for a second since it’s so incredibly healthy for you!

 

Healthy sweet potato salad

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“Cleansing” Chipotle Black Bean Chili

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One single day. That’s how long I had to wait after New Year’s before I heard a friend declare: “Oh man, I need to do a cleanse!” That’s a new record – last year it took three whole days to hear that proclamation. “Cleansing” has become an annual tradition among guilty gorgers who’ve spent the past month consuming their body’s weight in butter, chocolate cake and grandma’s rum-balls. Yeah, as if drinking cayenne pepper-laced hot water and eating tree bark for a week is actually going to roto-rooter their arteries, scrape down their intestines and magically make the 952 brownies they ate disappear.  (Well, perhaps if the last one they ate was a special “Dr. Chocopotomus’ cosmic brownie,” something like that might seem downright feasible, just like tap-dancing neon salamanders wearing Viking hats. But I digress…)

I don’t mock my friends too mercilessly for wanting to do these bizarre cleanses. Because at the root of it all is the desire to be healthier, and that’s awesome! For those who have had one too many cookies, I like to suggest a solution that’s much tastier and less likely to singe your eyeballs or leave twigs in your teeth: try eating delicious vegan meals for a week.

In honor of my friends who, like clockwork, are about to ask me for some quick, easy, appetizing and “cleansing” vegan dishes, here’s one of my favorites: chipotle black bean chili. This recipe takes all of 15 minutes to make, it’s filling, and it’s scrumptious in all of its smoky, hearty glory.

Research has shown that cleanses – like the cayenne lemon-water fad or the popular juice ‘detox’ – don’t actually do our bodies any favors. In fact, in addition to making people exceedingly cranky (which dramatically increases the risk of being smacked upside the head), they can also be very damaging due to the inherent nutritional imbalances of the cleanses. But nutritious high fiber foods – like black beans – are like a pipe cleaner for your intestines. (Sorry – that was a rather unpleasant visual). The key is to eat beans year-round, not just until the holiday guilt has worn off. And lucky for all of us, this yummy chili will make you want to eat beans every day of the week. Especially when it’s followed by magic brownies. (Kidding!)

Happy New Year!

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Cleansing Chipotle Black Bean Chili
Serves: 4
From fridge to table: 15 minutes

Olive oil for sautéing
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 14.5 oz cans organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 oz) organic crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
a handful of fresh tomatoes, chopped
½ cup water
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp canned *chipotle puree *
1 tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned)
Smoked sea salt
Tortilla chips (for those who aren’t ‘cleansing’)

*Note – to make the chipotle puree: buy a can of “chipotle chilies in adobo sauce,” which you will find in the Hispanic food section of the grocery store. Put the entire contents of the can, including sauce, in a blender and whirl until smooth. Scrape into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Take out a cube whenever you need it.

To make chili:

Heat a soup pot over medium-high heat, add some olive oil and cook the onions and garlic until the onion is translucent and starting to brown. Add beans, tomatoes and their juices, cumin and ½ cup water; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, chipotle puree and rice vinegar. Add smoked sea salt to taste. Serve in big bowls and crumble some tortilla chips on top if you’re feeling frisky. Enjoy!

(By the way, credit for this recipe goes to a magazine I read in my dentist’s office about 10 years ago. Unfortunately I can’t remember the magazine, nor can I remember how much of the original recipe I used, but I’d still like to say thanks to that magazine for combining black beans and chipotle, which is a brilliant combo!)

Take Me Away, Chipotle-Sage Sweet Potato Fries!

On rare occasions, I run across a really incredible ingredient that transports me to a land far, far away where my troubles, stress and worries cease to exist.  Thanks to my assortment of truly inspired infused olive oils and boldly flavored vinegars from 11 Olives that arrived today – and the subsequent tasting orgy that unfolded in my kitchen – I joyfully floated to a magical fantasy kingdom where rivers flowed with a heavenly mango balsamic, dragonflies rested on puffy sherbet-colored clouds of blood orange olive oil, and lacy yellow flowers glistened with oh-so-delicate and fragrant white lemon balsamic vinegar. Heaven on earth! It was so divine that I had to invite my neighbor friends to come over and share the joy of this amazing tasting. They laughed at my giddy excitement over the phone, but when Martha and her daughter Kelsey arrived, they were soon exclaiming “OH MY GOD!!” and “you have to try this one – it’s insane and I’ve never tasted anything like it!” while their eyes bulged and their mouths filled with the divine flavors of these amazing oils and vinegars. I had 14 in all to taste. I know, I know, I have absolutely no self control. But after talking with the owner and maker of the artisinal barrel-aged balsamics and infused olive oils, and hearing his passion for food and the beautiful flavors he’s concocted, I couldn’t help myself. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more flavors! (Check out their menu at http://www.11Olives.com. To purchase, contact the owner, Rick – he’s super cool and a very nice uber-foody – at info@11olives.com or call 206-290-4856.)

I can’t decide my favorite combos yet – California lime olive oil with pomegranate vinegar, or mango vinegar with chipotle oil are the current frontrunners – so I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots of cool recipes from me in the weeks to come! Kelsey came up with the first killer recipe, which I cheffed up tonight. It is delectable: sweet potato fries dressed with chipotle olive oil and fresh sage. The smoky chipotle flavor pairs beautifully with the rich, creamy tasty of sweet potatoes, the sage adds a unique and interesting depth and then there’s the slight kick of heat to finish it off. Oh my…when you try this, it may just sweep you away to that magical land of wondrous flavors and pure happiness. So don’t be surprised if you hear yourself saying: Take me away, chipotle-sage sweet potato fries!

Chipotle-Sage Sweet Potato Fries

Serves: 6
From fridge to table: 22 minutes

1 – 15 oz bag of frozen julienne cut sweet potato fries
15 large, fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp chipotle olive oil from 11 Olives

Heat oven to 425. Place fries in a large bowl and toss well with sage and oil. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes (or until crispy and golden), tossing a couple of times while baking to ensure even browning and crisping. Serve plain – the flavor is so insanely good that you don’t need any dipping sauce at all. Enjoy!

Thanks for the inspiration, Kelsey, and also 11 Olives!

The Boomerang: Honey Garlic Chipotle Corn on the Cob

Oh man, last week John experienced Operation Carnivore Reversion! The Big Green Egg (which is a crazy grill fad) and the overwhelming draw of his favorite childhood dishes cooked by his mother was just too much for him to resist. He OD’d on meat so badly that he actually boomeranged and requested a full slate of vegan meals this week. “I feel like my intestines need a scrub down. Bring on the vegetables,” he said. Since this is the first time he’s actually requested a vegan meal plan, I’m torn between being bummed about his drunk-on-meat stupor from last week, and being stoked about his newfound zeal for vegan food. Hmm, let’s focus on being stoked and plan some super tasty veggie dishes, shall we?
John usually isn’t inspired to eat many veggies, so that’s left me no choice but to develop a secret weapon: Honey Garlic Chipotle Spread. I put this slightly sweet, slightly savory, slightly smoky taste of heaven on fresh white corn on the cob. It is to die for. And it’s a total crowd pleaser, too! I’m telling you, it’s the only thing on earth that can possibly make corn on the cob taste better than it is on its own. And as John readily admits: “This spread makes people eat a lot more corn.”
So whether you’re looking for a super tasty way to dress up corn on the cob, trying to get someone to eat more veggies, or providing a vegan boomerang for someone who had a momentary meat orgy, this is the recipe for you. Enjoy!
Honey Garlic Chipotle Corn on the Cob
Serves: 8
From fridge to table: 11 minutes
8 ears fresh corn on the cob, shucked
1 tbsp chipotle sauce *
1/2 cup melted vegan butter spread (I like using Earth Balance)
(If your vegan butter spread is unsalted, add ½ tsp salt to the recipe)
1/3 cup honey
3 cloves garlic
* To make chipotle sauce, buy a can of “canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce,” which you’ll find in the Hispanic food aisle in grocery stores, and puree it in a food processor or blender. Freeze in ice cube trays for future use.
Bring a big huge pot of water to a boil. Toss in your husked ears of corn, cover and turn off the heat. Let it steep for 11 minutes for perfectly cooked corn that’s both crisp and tender.
Meanwhile, dump all the other ingredients in a food processor and puree. Once the corn is done, drain it and pat each ear dry, then brush the spread onto each ear. By the way, you can also make the spread several days in advance and refrigerate it. It firms up a bit in the fridge, but I think it makes it easier to get a thick coat of it onto the corn. When you’re ready to serve the corn, pass the extra spread around the table so people can put on extra as they’re eating – trust me, they’ll love it so much that they’ll want more.
By the way, if you want to make the flavors really pop and you’re willing to go to a little extra work, grill the corn in the husk, and rub the spread onto the corn kernels before you put the corn on the grill – it deepens the flavor a lot and it’s simply deeeelish!

I had to include this. Our cat, Mango, loves loves loves corn. When I’m not looking, he steals the entire cob off my plate. Now he gets his own corn, sans chipotle spread of course. Are we the only ones with cats who eat strange foods?

The Devious Vegetarian: “Drunken Soledad O’Brien” Stili (a stew/chili cross)

Behold: I am a devious vegetarian genius!

Continuing down the road to duping my meat-worshiping husband into becoming a vegetarian, I took a brilliant detour that led me to BoozeTown. As you may have figured out by now, I will gladly exploit John’s weaknesses in order to create a veg meal that suppresses his urge to make a face, is packed with protein and healthy ingredients, and that also helps him forget about his “meat deprivation.” That means that I have to chef up foods that are so delicious and satisfying that they blow his mind. With goals so lofty, can you blame me for playing dirty? I think not.

But I must admit, this stroke of culinary intelligence almost makes me feel like I’m cheating. The secret was to think of what John loves most in this world. The answer: beer. Not just any beer, but super strong IPA. I realized that if I could successfully combine beer with vegan ingredients, I might just create a masterpiece that he’ll not just love, but that he’ll actually ASK me to make him in the future. And thus, the “Drunken Soledad O’Brien Stili” was born.

Like it’s namesake, this Stili has a little bit of everything in it. Think of it as a cross between a chili, a stew and a pub. It’s got a spicy Cuban flair, hearty American microbrew beer, and some potatoes to satisfy John’s Irish stomach. By the way, what the heck ethnicity is Soledad O’Brien? Is she African American? Scottish? Hispanic? Lemurian? All of the above? My guess is that her beauty is in her funky blend, and the same holds true for this rich, delicious, beer-infused stili.

The carnivore verdict? One taste and John’s face lit up. With dancing eyebrows, he exclaimed: “Oh Mah Gawhd. This…is…awesome!” I hope you and your converting carnivore like it, too!

Time to table: about 45 minutes

Serves: 6 hungry people

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (with seeds)

1.5-2 lbs small, creamy-tasting potatoes, chopped into 1” cubes (such as Yukon Gold creamers or fingerling potatoes) (I used some misshapen Finn potatoes that I grew in our garden)

1 tsp smoked sea salt

freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp high quality chili powder

12 oz. microbrew dark beer (I used 21st Amendment’s “Back in Black IPA,” one of John’s’ faves.)

1 – 15 oz. can stewed tomatoes (I like Muir Glenn since it’s organic and has much more of an authentic tomatoey taste the other canned tomatoes)

3 – 15 oz. cans of beans (I used black beans, pinto and aduki, but really, you can use whichever are your favorites)

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tbsp chipotle sauce **

2-3 tbsp maple syrup

½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

**(Chipotle sauce is super easy to make. Just buy a can of “chipotle peppers in adobo sauce” – in the Hispanic section of most grocery stores – and just blend the whole thing until it’s smooth. Wow, the flavor is smokey, deep, lush and delicious, and it adds so much to dishes like this. I like to freeze my leftover chipotle sauce in ice cube trays so that it’s easy to use in the future.)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook for three minutes, stirring frequently. Add red pepper, garlic and jalapeño and stir/cook until the onion is translucent. Add the potatoes and stir/cook for 3 minutes. Add the smoked sea salt, pepper and chili powder and stir well to fully coat ingredients. If you don’t have smoked sea salt, seriously, buy some – it adds so much depth of flavor! I buy mine from SpiceHound.com – I like the alderwood smoked sea salt. Note: it’s important that you add the salt before the beans. Why? Because salt stops beans from cooking and keeps them intact. If you don’t add it, the beans will turn to mush -blahkkk.

Add the beer and stir for a couple of minutes to boil off some of the alcohol. Add the tomatoes, beans and broth. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent the beans from scorching on the bottom of your pot. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring often. Taste the chili as it cooks and you’ll see that the flavors deepen as it cooks. Once it’s almost ready to serve, add the chipotle and maple syrup, stirring well, and allow to cook for 5 minutes more. Then remove from heat, add cilantro. Serve with a couple of tortilla chips crumbled on top, and of course, beer or a margarita. Enjoy!