Vegetarian Grec-Mex Chili with Homemade Pita Chips
This recipe is inspired by a great chile recipe my friend Martha Rose Shulman published in her column "Recipes for Health" in the New York Times. I've tweaked it to marry Greek ingredients such as great olive oil, Greek oregano and feta cheese to the chile. It's perfect cold-weather food, especially for a hearty weekend meal. To find some of the artisinal Greek products you'll need to make this, visit my online shop here, where you'll discover a host of lovingly curated Greek ingredients.
- 2 cups cranberry beans soaked overnight or for 8 hours
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ cup extra virgin Vrisi 36 Greek olive oil
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 1 red bell pepper or 2 Greek Florina red peppers in brine drained and diced
- 2 large garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper or more, to taste
- 2 scant teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon or more or ground cinnamon
- 1 28- ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste dissolved in 1 cup water
- 2 cups diced pumpkin butternut or other winter squash (about 3/4 pound)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons Vrisi 36 Greek balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ½ cup chopped parsely
- ½ cup crumbled Greek feta optional
For the Pita chips
- 3-4 pita bread rounds cut into 6 triangular wedges each
- 1/2 cup Vrisi 36 extra-virgin Greek olive oil
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt preferably Greek
- 2 garlic cloves cut into slivers
- 2 tablespoon Greek oregano
Drain the beans and add to a large pot with ample water. Cook the cranberry together with the bay leaves until softened but not mushy, about 35 – 40 minutes. Drain and cover to keep warm. (You can prepare the beans a day or two ahead of time and keep refrigerated. Bring down to room temperature before using.)
In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat half the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onions and carrot until softened and glistening, about 8 minutes. Add the red pepper if using and the garlic and stir for a few minutes.
Stir in the spices. As soon as they darken a bit, pour in the chopped tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and add the beans and the diced winter squash. Sprinkle in the oregano. Season to taste with salt. Bring to a simmer and add the tomato paste mixture and the oregano. Stir them in gently. Continue simmering, covered, for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until the beans and vegetables are tender, the flavors beautifully melded and the sauce thick. Stir in the vinegar 10 minutes before removing from heat, and the cilantro and parsley a minute before the dish is cooked.
While the chile is simmering, make the pita chips: Preheat the oven to 350F. Toss the pita wedges with the olive oil, salt, garlic and oregano and spread out onto a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden, about 7 - 8 minutes, turning once to cover on both sides.
Serve hot, drizzled with remaining olive oil and sprinkled, if desired, with feta cheese.