Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Chili con Frijoles

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

Shopping List

1 onion: $0.50
1 green bell pepper: $1.32
2 serrano peppers: $0.25
1 cup uncooked lentils: $1.00
1/2 cup uncooked beans: $0.25
2 or 3 canned plum tomatoes (pro-rated): $1.00
Cilantro (pro-rated): $0.50
1 cup uncooked millet: $0.50
2 ounces pepper jack (optional): $0.50

Pantry items: Oil, garlic, ground cumin, paprika or pimenton, dried thyme, dried sage, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, salt, cornmeal, yogurt or sour cream (optional).

Total cost (for 4 portions): $5.82

Despite my pedigree as an enthusiastically carnivorous Texan, I've made plenty of vegetarian chilis in my time, all unremarkable. They got the belly-filling job done, more or less, but this Madhur Jaffrey bean chili is the first non-meat chili I've ever made that was still being enthusiastically eaten on the third day.

Except for the bell pepper and jalapenos or serranos, you probably have on hand all these ingredients. I used some of the pre-cooked beans I keep in my freezer, but canned would be fine, too. A spoonful of yogurt or sour cream makes the meal surprisingly richer; in fact, as long as you have that creamy kick, you won't miss cheese, if you don't happen to have any. And millet may sound like a punishingly healthy choice for serving, but its texture and bulk actually remind me of the ground beef in a chili con carne. If you're skeptical, make rice (or use your extra two dollars and change to buy corn tortillas or chips). Jaffrey says this is also good with polenta and doubles or triples well.

Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian.

About the author: Robin Bellinger is a freelance editor and shameless cookie addict. She lives in San Francisco and blogs about what she feeds her husband and her daughter at home*economics.

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