A healthy take on chili and cornbread! Perfectly spiced vegetarian chili over creamy polenta. Vegan & Gluten-free.
If cornbread and chili go together like peanut butter and jelly, then vegetarian chili & creamy polenta go together like, um, chili and cornbread?
A week or so ago, while waiting not-so-patiently for this vegetarian chili to finish cooking, I started rummaging through our pantry for cornbread ingredients. Ground corn? Check. Everything else? Nada.
While the beauty of living two blocks from a grocery store is convenient when I need last-minute ingredients, I did not have the energy- nor the patience- that evening. As I tried to convince myself that chili would be just as delicious without a side of freshly baked cornbread, I started dreaming about polenta.
Who needs hunks of cornbread anyway? Creamy polenta is not only the soupy version of cornbread, it’s also a zillion times easier. Whisk ground corn into simmering vegetable broth. Whisk a bit more, and it’s ready. I’m not sure why I haven’t thought of this before, but I can’t get enough of this simple pairing.
It’s the perfect brisk fall evening meal. Of course, I’m not having any brisk fall evenings here in
the Sahara California, but I hope you are! This cozy, comfort bowl just begs to be eaten while curled up on the couch under a blanket.
- Polenta: 3 cups soymilk
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup corn meal
- 3 tbsp. dairy-free butter (I like Earth Balance brand)
- Chili: 1 onion, chopped
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. dried thyme
- 1 large can italian chopped tomatoes
- 1 large can tomato sauce
- 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- Make the chili: Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini, green pepper, garlic cloves, jalapenos, and spices.
- Continue to cook on low for 10-15 minutes until vegetables are soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. If the chili becomes too thick, you can thin with a bit of vegetable broth.
- Make the polenta: Heat broth and milk over medium heat.
- When bubble start to surface, gently whisk in cornmeal and stir together.
- Reduce heat to low and let cook until thick, stirring often, about 25 minutes.
- Stir in butter and pinch salt/pepper.
- To serve: scoop polenta into a bowl. Top with chili. Garnish with your favorite toppings!