Last week our weather was a little cool. Well, relatively speaking. Several days were overcast and drizzly all day long, more Seattle-looking than our usually rainy season weather which owes more to Midwestern summer thunderstorms than anything else. It seemed an appropriate time to cook some warm, hearty comfort food, so I dug up a recipe for Mexican Black Bean Chili and made it in a Monday night meal along with some buttermilk cornbread muffins and a tasty red cabbage and apple slaw.
Beans are super-healthy, incredibly inexpensive, and easy to use. Make a large batch and freeze up the extras so you can thaw them out and make a fast and easy weeknight dinner like this one. This chili uses chopped onions and peppers (I added some carrots, too, as I had some on hand), and plenty of cumin, lime juice, chopped cilantro, and dried chipotle pepper to add a nice kick. One thing I add that isn’t in the recipe is a few tablespoons of cornmeal. I add then to the aromatics as they are sauteeing in a little bit of oil. This creates a roux that thickens the chili and adds a nice flavor, too.
To garnish, I used a little leftover homemade salsa and avocado cilantro lime cream sauce from fish tacos a few nights earlier.
The slaw is a nice alternative to the usual green cabbage slaw. Not only does this offer more vitamins, it also has more flavor. The recipe is based loosely on the one from Blue Smoke BBQ but I play around with it. For starters, I leave the peel on the apples (more fiber and flavor) and slice them thin instead of chunks, which adds more visual interest to the dish. Additionally, I play around with their dressing recipe, reducing the mayonnaise, using apple cider vinegar for their white balsamic, leaving out the chilies, and adding some nigella seed. Sitting alongside a cornbread muffin, I think it is quite pretty.
The combination makes for a very tasty and very healthful meal. To top it off, chili is one of those dishes that benefits from a night or two in the refrigerator, so it made even nicer leftovers later in the week!