Friday, November 11, 2011

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili with Scallion Cheddar Cornbread and Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

I am part of a dinner club.  This week was my turn to host.  Billings has been super cold and snowy, so I thought chili sounded delightful!  I got the recipes for the chili and cornbread on Pinterest.  The chili is absolutely dynamite.  To be honest, it may be my favorite chili I have ever tried!  It is sweet with a little bite, and the butternut squash adds a good hearty and sweet taste to this bean-packed chili.  I cut up the toppings and set them up as a chili bar so my guests could use whatever toppings they liked.  The cornbread was good, but it is traditional Texas cornbread in that it is not very sweet.  This was my first time making cornbread from scratch, and it is noticeably less sweet than store-bought mixes.  However, I thought it was delicious!  As I do with chili, I tore the cornbread into bite-sized pieces and sprinkled it over my chili.  It was delightful :)  It would be impossible for me to accurately praise this salad.  The cilantro lime vinaigrette is one of the most delicious dressings I have ever tasted.  I was nervous at first because of the cilantro to liquid ratio; the dressing turned out somewhat thick and absolutely delicious.  I found pumpkin seeds at World Market, but those of you who are over achievers could roast your own.  The girls absolutely loved this salad, and I will definitely be making it again and again!  Overall, the party was a smashing success, and I couldn't be more pleased with the dishes I served.  This chili and salad recipes are definitely going into my must-make-again vault.  Enjoy!!

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili 

2 red bell peppers
3 T olive oil
1 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground cayenne pepper
1 t paprika
1/4 t salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 c chicken broth (or vegetable)
1 1/2 c (1/2 inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
1 28 oz can whole tomatoes, chopped and undrained
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Toppings:  1 bunch cilantro, chopped; sour cream; cheese; green onions; jalapenos; etc.

Preheat broiler to high.  Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove and discard seeds and membranes.  Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Broil 15 minutes or until blackened.  Make sure they get REALLY black.  This was my first time roasting peppers, and if you don't let them get black enough (like me), it's super hard to peel the skins off.  Place pepper halves in a zip-top plastic bag and seal.  Let stand 15 minutes, then peel and chop peppers.  Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat.  Add oil to pan, and swirl to coat.  Add onion, cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and garlic.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add bell peppers, broth, squash and tomatoes, and bring to a simmer.  Cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans, and simmer 40 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.  Sprinkle with toppings.

Cheddar and Scallion Cornbread

1 1/4 c cornmeal
3/4 c flour
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 c cheddar cheese, grated
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup milk
2/3 c buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 T unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Generously grease a 9" round cake pan.  In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  Gently fold in the grated cheese and green onions, mixing until combined.  In another medium bowl, whisk together the milk, buttermilk, eggs and melted butter.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking until just combined.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette 

Romaine lettuce
handful of grape tomatoes
2 green onions, sliced
2 bell peppers (any color), diced
1/2 c black beans (I omitted the beans since I served this with bean-packed chili)
1/2 c frozen corn, thawed
1 T toasted pumpkin seeds
1 avocado, diced
2 T cotija cheese
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

In a large salad bowl, add chopped lettuce, tomatoes, green onions, avocado, bell peppers, black beans, corn, pumpkin seeds and cheese.  Top the salad with the vinaigrette and enjoy!

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette:
1/2 c chopped cilantro
1/4 c olive oil
2 T lime juice (fresh, or store-bought, I used store-bought and it was great)
1 T red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t oregano

Blend all ingredients together in a blender.  Let the flavors mingle for at least 30 minutes before serving.

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