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Planit

Vegetarian chili sidesteps common pitfalls

Easy slow cooker chili that lives up to the hype

Smoky slow cooker vegetarian chili
Smoky slow cooker vegetarian chili

Slow cookers have legions of fans. I am not among them.

Whatever I make ends up either tasteless mush or wildly overcooked or – on days when I’m really shining – both mushy and wildly overcooked.

Also, I resent it when slow cooker recipes require me to pre-cook ingredients before adding them to the slow cooker. But I accept that I am in the minority. I understand that many people who are not me somehow find these devices useful. I applaud those people.

And in their honor, I created a slow cooker recipe that is everything I think so many are not – easy and tasty. No browning or other pots are needed for this dump-and-go vegetarian chili that truly takes just 10 minutes to assemble in the morning. It then can be ignored until you get home from work.

Smoky Slow Cooker

Vegetarian Chili

Start to finish: 4 to 8 hours

(depending on slow cooker)

Servings: 12

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

3 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (about a 2½ pound-squash)

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup red wine

15-ounce can kidney beans, drained

15-ounce can great northern or other white beans, drained

8-ounce bag frozen bell pepper strips

6-ounce can tomato paste

6 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and ground black pepper

Hot sauce, to taste

Sour cream, to serve

Chopped fresh cilantro, to serve

Tortilla chips, lightly crushed

In a 6-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper, hot sauce, sour cream, cilantro and tortilla chips. Stir well, then cover and turn on the cooker. Let cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. The chili can be served any time after the squash and sweet potato are tender.

When ready to serve, taste, then season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Alternatively, leave out the hot sauce and offer it at the table for each diner to adjust heat as desired. Serve topped with sour cream, cilantro and crushed tortilla chips.

Nutrition information per serving: 250 calories; 60 calories from fat (24 percent of total calories); 6 g fat (2.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 10 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 9 g protein; 670 mg sodium.

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