Serious Eats: Recipes

Sack Lunch: Black Bean Chili with Eggplant

Lately I’ve been wondering if I should add "freezing food in individual portions" to my list of interests on Facebook. For one long, dark year I lived in a Park Slope studio with no freezer, unable to save leftovers and frequently forced to eat entire pints of ice cream in a single sitting. Ever since I have appreciated my freezer and used it as much as possible, although the serving size of ice cream that satisfies me now remains tragically huge.

Since I don’t always have the time or ingredients to pack even a sandwich, my frozen stash of soup, stew, and other leftovers has often been the only thing standing between me and a mediocre but depressingly expensive business-district lunch. Although some things (especially potato-based soups, in my experience) suffer for having been frozen, most come out just fine and are given additional relish by the thrill (okay, for me) of enjoying the fruits of my earlier labor.

Here’s what’s in my freezer right now: black bean and eggplant chili. This meatless, bean-filled chili (sorry, chili purists!) was far too spicy for me the day I made it, even with wheatberries, plain yogurt, and cheese stirred in. It mellowed a little overnight, but I will be more careful with peppers next time. (I used chilies de arbol and am wondering if New Mexican red chilies are actually much milder.) In any event, this was solid home cooking but didn’t make anyone weak in the knees, which is why it was an excellent candidate for freezing: I wouldn’t have wanted to eat it several meals in a row, but I will be very grateful to have it when I find myself in a mealtime pinch.

About the author: Robin Bellinger recently escaped a career in book publishing, which was cutting into her cooking time. Now she's a freelance editor and can bake bread on Tuesday afternoon if she feels like it. She lives in Midtown Manhattan with her husband and blogs about cooking and crafting at home*economics.

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