Chilli sensa carne

In these COVID-19 days with the bars and restaurants of Italy closed and people following government instructions to “iostacasa” (“I stay home”), many of us are doing a lot of cooking and eating. Unlike other places in Europe, there is no manic shopping or stockpiling of food…the supermarkets are open as usual with plenty of fresh and non-perishable goods, the only difference is a ticketing system (and queue) to enter and a requirement to keep your distance from others in the aisles.

Indeed on my last trip to the supermarket I managed to get hold of some lovely red chillis, a rarity here in Piedmont where people really don’t have a taste for hot and spicy food. This comforting and easy-to-make chilli comes sensa (without) rather than con (with) meat (carne). As usual I ended up with far too much for one person but the chilli can be kept in the fridge for up to a week or frozen to be eaten at a later date.

Ingredients

Tin of chopped tomatoes
Tin of kidney beans
1 large red pepper
1 red onion
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
Chilli flakes to taste
A vegetable stock cube (optional)
The main ingredients for chilli – no meat!

Method

First, slice the onion, pepper and chilli. Don’t forget to wash your hands carefully afterwards….there really is nothing worse than accidentally rubbing your eye without doing so, believe me I’ve done it many times!

Slice and chop the vegetables

Next, fry the vegetables for 10 minutes until everything has softened and then add the spices. The amounts above will create a very mild chilli so I added a large teaspoon of chilli flakes and a teaspoon of some very hot chilli powder produced here in Italy by the father of a good friend. Fry everything for 5 minutes stirring well before adding the red kidney beans and tinned copped tomatoes.

Fry the vegetables before adding the remaining ingredients

Simmer for 10 minutes and the chilli will be cooked and ready to serve. If you cook it for longer, reheat at a later stage or leave it in the fridge the flavours will deepen further. I served mine with a baked potato but this chilli can also be served with rice, sweet potato fries, nacho chips or topped with fried eggs for a delicious carb free breakfast.

Top tip: if you want an even richer flavour there are all sorts of things you can add. I crumbled in a vegetable stock cube and then added a splash of red wine from a bottle of Nebbiolo that I happened to have open. Other things that really add flavour and depth are balsamic vinegar, tomato ketchup and even Marmite so experiment with what you have to hand and work out what you like best!

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