Vegetarian Chili

vegetarian chili is an inexpensive and tasty meal with great depth of flavor

Want to incorporate more vegetarian options in your diet? Looking to get more fiber, more veggies and greater economy into your cooking? Veggie chili is a great way to provide cost-effective, healthy and tasty lunches and dinners. This can be modified to many different taste profiles–experiment and see what you like!

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

Note: For the sake of convenience, you can use canned beans; if you want better texture and taste, I suggest using dry beans: these need to be cleaned (to remove any small stones, or broken pieces) and soaked.

Cooking Instructions:

“Bean Base” — I suggest using a “mix n’match” approach to veggie chili — a variety of beans can make for better taste, better texture and a more visually appealing dish.

What goes into a good “Bean Base”? It’s a matter of preference, but these varieties, in a mix, provide a balance of taste, texture and color.

  • Canned, or dried beans:
    • Red kidney
    • Pinto beans
    • Black beans
    • White kidney beans
    • Garbanzo beans
    • Navy beans
  • Veggies:
    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • 2 bags coined baby carrots
    • 4 stalks 1/2″ celery– 1/2″ dice
    • 1 large sweet potato — 1/2″ dice
    • 2-3 diced bell peppers, to taste
  • Stock/spices
    • 3-4 cups vegetable stock, as needed
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 2 TBSP thyme
    • 2TBSP ancho chili powder
    • 2TBSP smoked paprika
    • 2TBSP salt
    • 2-3TSP pepper, to taste
    • 3-4 crushed garlic cloves
    • 1TBSP Sriracha
    • 1TBSP Cumin
    • 1TBSP ground mustard
    • 2-3TBSP olive oil

If you are using canned beans, heat up oil in stock pot. Add spices and mix for 2-3 minutes to activate. Add in veggies and stir until celery is translucent (approx. 5 minutes).

Once veggies and spices are melded, add beans and stock. Simmer for 40 minutes, testing seasoning periodically.

To produce a flavorful dish, simmer for about 90 minutes. This dish reheats well and is great for weekday lunches!


When I was growing up, turkey croquettes were among my favorite dishes! We always had lots of leftover turkey and my mother was challenged to find creative ways–beyond making a big pot of soup–to serve up tasty dishes that we’d all happily eat.

This is a great way to use up leftovers and these croquettes freeze well, so you can make them and save for a quick dinner down the road.

I typically serve croquettes with veloute sauce; it’s simple to make and only uses four ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper

Heat stock over medium heat. In a separate pan, melt butter and add pepper. Slowly add in flour, stirring for about 5 minutes until a roux is formed. Do not let the mixture get brown–you want the sauce to be a pale yellow color. Once the roux has cooked for 5 minutes, slowly whisk in the chicken stock, making sure that you don’t have lumps. Once the chicken stock is incorporated, cook for about 5 minutes until it can coat the back of a spoon. If it becomes too thick, add more stock.

Want to skip the sauce? Try sprinkling some ponzu sauce over the croquettes. Ponzu is a Japanese sauce with notes of citrus. No ponzu? Try using soy sauce!


  • 1 lb ground turkey (mixed light/dark meat will result in a moister croquette, but you can use all white meat if you prefer)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp milk
  • 2/3 cup finely diced carrots
  • 1/3 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 tbs olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp each, salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp thyme
  • 4 oz chicken stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Add oil, onions, carrots and celery to a hot skillet; sweat the vegetables over a low heat until the onions become translucent (~4 minutes)
  • Add salt, pepper, spices, garlic, stock, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste; stir for 2-3 minutes to ensure that everything is uniformly mixed
  • In a mixing bowl whisk one of the eggs; add the turkey and the vegetable mixture; mix thoroughly
  • Form 3″ cones and put into the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes so that the croquettes set
  • In a small bowl, beat egg and milk to make a wash
  • On a small tray spread out breadcrumbs
  • Dip each of the croquettes in the egg wash
  • Roll each croquette in the breadcrumbs until coated; you can repeat this process if you want an extra crusty coating
  • Place the croquettes on 3″ apart on a foil-lined cookie tray
  • Bake for 25 minutes
  • While the croquettes are in the oven, make the veloute sauce

Note: you can substitute ground chicken for the turkey if you prefer.

Veloute is one of the five French “mother sauces“:

  • Béchamel sauce: White sauce, based on milk thickened with a white roux
  • Espagnole sauce: Brown sauce based on a brown stock reduction, and thickened with brown roux. Ingredients typically include roasted bones, bacon, and tomato (puréed and/or fresh).
  • Tomato sauce (sometimes “Tomate” or “Tomat”): As well as tomatoes, ingredients typically include carrots, onion, garlic, butter, and flour, plus pork belly and veal broth.
  • Velouté sauce: Clear sauce, made by reducing clear stock (made from un-roasted bones) and thickened with a white roux. Velouté is French for “velvety”.
  • Hollandaise sauce: Warm emulsion of egg yolk, melted butter, and lemon juice or vinegar.

Split Pea Soup

This is the perfect lunch on a cool fall day…rich, but healthy and freezes well. This recipe will make a lot of soup, so I always freeze half. The smoked paprika used gives this soup a nice, smoky flavor. While I use ham in the recipe, you can easily skip that and substitute vegetable stock to make it vegan.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

You can serve with garlic croutons, top with a bit of sour cream or you can add a half ounce of sherry for additional flavor. If you have time and are motivated, fry thinly sliced shallots and crumble on top.


  • 1 large package dried green split peas
  • 1 cup cup finely diced carrots
  • 3/4 cup finely diced celery
  • 2 tbs olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp each, salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp thyme
  • 24 oz chicken stock
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 pound smoked ham, finely diced


  • Add oil to Instant Pot and set to saute
  • Add onions, carrots, garlic and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes–until the onions become translucent
  • Add the salt, pepper and spices, cook for 3 minutes, until the spices are activated
  • Add the diced ham and cooking, stirring frequently, for 8 minutes–until the ham has browned
  • Add the tomato paste and stock; mix until everything is fully incorporated
  • If using an Instant Pot, set to cook for 45 minutes

Note: for a vegan version, simply omit the ham and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken. While you can use a standard pressure cooker, I suggest using an Instant Pot (or similar electric pressure cooker). The auto-shutoff feature provides additional safety and the timer makes it carefree.

Enchilada Casserole

This easy to make casserole is a family favorite in our house! You can adjust the seasoning to keep it mild, or add some heat. This dish reheats beautifully, too, so you’ll have plenty to pack for lunches.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

If you want a spicier dish, leave in the Jalapeno seeds. Want a smoky flavor? Blister poblano peppers and substitute them for the bell peppers.

Never blistered a pepper before? Simply lay the pepper directly over the burner: with the flame on its lowest setting, turn the pepper once black blistering appears. Don’t have a gas stove? You can put your oven on broil at 425, setting the peppers on a foil-lined cookie sheet turn them once the black blisters appear. Be careful that they don’t burn too much!


  • 1lb 85% lean ground beef
  • 2 tbs olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 box Pom (or similar) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz beef stock
  • 1 1/2 tbs each:
    • Powdered ancho chili
    • Powdered chipotle chili
    • Powdered chili powder
    • Powdered smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 tsp finely chopped (fresh) cilantro
  • 1 large fresh Jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 medium yellow bell peppers, diced
  • 2 tbs sun dried tomato paste
  • 8 small corn tortillas
  • 4 oz cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tsp corn masa


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spray an 8×12 casserole pan with non-stick product (Pam, or similar)
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; when it is hot, add onions and peppers and turn heat to medium-low
  • After 3 minutes, add salt, pepper and spices to skillet; cook for 1 minute to activate them
  • Add hamburger to the skillet and cook it until browned; make sure to break it up so that there aren’t big clumps
  • Add jalapeno, tomato paste and beef stock to the skillet
  • Cook over low heat for 10 minutes
  • Sprinkle masa over skillet mixture, stir in thoroughly and cook for 5 minutes until sauce thickens a bit (mixture should still be somewhat loose since it will be going in the oven
  • While mixture thickens, heat corn tortillas on both sides, just until they start to blister; this will make the tortillas pliable, so they won’t tear as you line the casserole
  • Line the casserole with the tortillas, overlapping them in the pan
  • Spread the skillet mixture evenly in the casserole
  • Cover with the enchilada sauce and sprinkle the cheese evenly
  • Bake for 30 minutes; let stand for 15 minutes before cutting

Note: if you don’t have masa, you can make a slurry with corn starch: simply mix 2 tsp with just enough water to dissolve. Stir into the skillet mixture, drizzling slowly.

White wine & Apricot Chicken

Prep Time: 25 minutes

This is a simple dish to prepare, but adds some unusual flavor notes that set this dish apart from run of the mill chicken dishes.

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Simmering this dish will allow the flavors to develop, so let it go low and slow while you enjoy some of the leftover wine!


  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 cup dried apricots, finely diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely minced
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 1/2″ long pieces
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, very finely minced
  • 2 small cloves fresh garlic, smashed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp white pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs sundried tomato paste
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  1. In a small bowl, soak apricots in white wine, set aside for ~30 minutes
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. In an ovenproof, heavy bottomed (covered) skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat
  4. Add shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, ginger and tomato paste, lowering heat to medium-low; stir several times over 3-4 minutes to activate spices and soften shallots
  5. Remove shallots and bay leaves from pan; adding into apricots
  6. Turn heat back up to medium, add chicken; stir until cooked through and browned on all sides: 12-15 minutes
  7. Remove chicken from pan, turn heat to high, add in green beans, apricots, wine and stock; deglaze pan–scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet
  8. Add apricot mixture and chicken to skillet
  9. Cover skillet, place in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes
  10. In a tinfoil “nest” spread out almonds; toast for 5 minutes in the 350 degree oven until brown; keep an eye to ensure that they don’t burn–not all ovens are calibrated!
  11. Remove skillet and place on stovetop over low heat
  12. Mix cornstarch with enough water to make a slurry
  13. Mix cornstarch mixture into chicken and stir until sauce thickens
  14. Serve over rice and garnish with toasted almonds

Indian Inspired Chicken and Chickpeas

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 60 minutes

This can also be prepared as a vegetarian recipe, which is inexpensive and healthy…it just takes some time if you use dried garbanzo beans (versus canned, which are convenient, but don’t have the same texture as using dried).

Note: it’s very helpful to use a smart cooker (e.g. Instantpot, or similar) when preparing this dish. If you don’t have one, a regular pressure cooker will work–or you can simply cook the beans for longer. Just plan ahead!

  • 1 bag dried garbanzo beans (~16 oz)
  • 3/4 lb diced chicken breast
  • 3/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 3 cloves garlic (or 2 tsp garlic paste)
  • 2 tsp each salt/pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced carrots
  • 1 lg onion, finely diced
  • 1 lg sweet potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)
  • 1-2 Thai chilies (per taste)
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Note: if using dried beans, cook in pressure cooker (with stock) for about 40 minutes before preparing the dish.

If using dried beans, cook them and retain–with stock–to cook chicken separately.

If you retain beans, heat oil and saute chicken (to brown it) along with spices. Once the spices and chicken are browned, you can add back the beans and finish the dish.


  1. Wash dried beans
  2. Add beans, along with stock, to Instantpot (or pressure cooker), salt & pepper
  3. Cook for ~30 minutes
  4. Once the beans are cooked, reserve beans and remaining liquid while you cook the chicken
  5. Add olive oil to pot; once hot, add chicken, carrots, chilies, garlic, bay leaves and onion
  6. Brown chicken and saute onions for 6-7 minutes, along with spices
  7. Add tomatoes and reserved beans/stock
  8. Simmer for 15 minutes
  9. Serve over rice
Indian-inspired chicken and chickpeas

Basil Sausage Stuffing

basil sausage stuffing
basil sausage stuffing

I use fresh Italian basil sausage in this recipe, but if you don’t have that available to you, use ground sausage.

Basil sausage stuffing is earning rave reviews from family and friends! It is easy to make, doesn’t require stuffing a bird and it reheats well–especially to make a nice sandwich with cold cuts and cranberry mayo!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 2 1//2 cups seasoned stuffing mix
  • 3 cups chicken, vegetable or turkey stock
  • 1 lb basil sausage
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup each, diced carrots & celery
  • 3/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 tsp each, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper
  • 2 tsp parsley
cooking instructions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Put onions, carrots and celery in a heavy bottomed (OVEN PROOF!) saute pan; add butter and turn heat to medium
  • Saute until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes)
  • Add sausage (remove casing); break up sausage and stir to ensure that the sausage cooks thoroughly
  • Add spices, salt & pepper; cook for about 3 minutes — until the spices are aromatic
  • Combine sausage mix with stock and stuffing mix in the saucepan; once all ingredients are incorporated, place in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour (until the stuffing mix is moist, but not wet)

Variations: Basil sausage stuffing is delicious as is, but for added crunch, use 3/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts. Or, for a bit of sweetness, add 1/2 cup very finely diced Granny Smith apples. Prefer a tart note in your stuffing? Add 1/3 cup very finely diced dried cranberries. By the way: you can use this to stuff a bird, if you like: I do recommend pre-cooking the stuffing as described to ensure that it is at a safe temperature and there is enough moisture from the stock that it won’t be dry.

Yogurt Mint Dip

yogurt mint dip
yogurt dip

Yogurt mint dip with a touch of citrus, sumac and honey is a versatile and delicious condiment that takes just minutes to make and stores well in the refrigerator. Sumac is a spice commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking that has a lemony flavor.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: N/A

  • 2 cups unsweetened greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, diced
  • 1/2 tsp sumac powder
  • 2 1/2 tbs honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small lime
cooking instructions
  • Zest lime (use 2 tsp in the yogurt) and juice (until you have at least 1/2 tbs); set aside
  • Core and dice the cucumber; salt and set aside
  • Add sumac, honey, lime juice and zest to yogurt
  • Gently fold in cucumber and garnish with whole mint leaves
  • You can serve this with crudites, pita points, over cold chicken or mixed into salad in place of dressing

Variations: If you want to add texture to the yogurt mint dip, crush 2 tbs pistachios. It’s also delicious if you add in 1/2 cup finely diced Granny Smith apples. This dip can also be used as a marinade if you want to tenderize kebabs, or chicken. Simply toss the kebabs, or chicken in a large Ziploc bag and leave in the refrigerator overnight; be sure to shake the bag up again after 3-4 hours to ensure that the meat gets evenly coated. Remove excess dip before grilling the meat.

Mama’s Meatloaf


Meatloaf is something that many of us grew up with in America. This version introduces a few “twists” to keep things bright and add some extra nutrients. There are lots of ways to vary a meatloaf, taking advantage of what is on sale, so experiment and enjoy!

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 50 minutes

  • 1 lb 50/50 ground beef/pork mix
  • 3 slices stale bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbs mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbs minced garlic
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp, each — salt & pepper
  • 1 tbs hot sauce (optional)
  • Large yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1/4 cup parsley, very finely chopped
cooking instructions
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees; line loaf pan with parchment paper
  • Mix egg, milk in a large bowl; add shredded bread and let sit for ~5 minutes
  • In a large skillet, heat oil; add onion, celery, carrots; cook until the onion is translucent
  • Add garlic and spices; cook another 3-4 minutes until spices are aromatic
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly
  • Add meat, ketchup, mayonnaise, hot sauce, baby spinach and parsley to bread mixture
  • Incorporate onion mixture
  • Work by hand to combine all ingredients; do not overwork the mixture or the meatloaf will be tough!
  • Shape into loaf and roll in Panko crumbs
  • Place in loaf pan and cook on center rack of the oven for about 50 minutes, until a meat thermometer shows the internal temperature is at least 150 degrees

Variations: If you want to add a piquant note to the meatloaf, add 2 tsp capers and 3/4 tsp nutmeg. Want a more smokey note? Substitute BBQ sauce for the ketchup. Like a saltier version? Add 2 tbs soy sauce to the onion mixture while you saute. If you like a little extra crunch, add 3 tbs chopped water chestnuts (raw) to the meat mixture. British roots? Use HP Sauce instead of ketchup. HP has a really nice undertone of tamarind, which has a spicy, sour taste.

Charred Leek and Potato Soup

charred leeks
It is important to wash the leeks thoroughly, separating the leaves to ensure that they are free of dirt.

Charred leek and potato soup is a favorite cold weather soup in our house. The potatoes add body to the recipe and you can add diced bacon, if desired.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • 1 lb fresh leeks, cut into a rough dice
  • 4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 2 tsp each, salt & pepper
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup homemade croutons (use french baguette, or similar dense bread)
  • (Optional) 1 1/2 tsp hot sauce
cooking instructions
  • Prep leeks by removing root base and the very tops of the leaves, separating leaves, washing thoroughly and chopping into a rough dice
  • Toss leeks in a large bowl with 1 tbs olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Place in a single layer on a foil-covered cookie sheet
  • Char leeks in the oven (broil setting at 425 degrees) for 7-8 minutes; be sure that they don’t get overdone!
  • Remove from oven and set aside
  • Peel, wash and cube potatoes
  • Heat butter and 1 tbs olive oil in stock pot; add onions, salt, pepper, thyme, oregano, smoked paprika, mustard and garlic
  • Stir over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent
  • Add in the leeks, potato and stock; simmer for about 30 minutes (until potatoes are fork tender)
  • While soup simmers, dice bread into 1″ cubes, toss with 1 tbs olive oil
  • Place in a single layer on the cookie sheet used for leeks; brown at 425 for about 5 minutes
  • Serve in crocks garnished with croutons and a small drizzle of hot sauce, if desired

Variations: If desired, add 3/4 cup cooked, diced slab bacon. You can also substitute sweet potatoes or yams in place of potatoes.