Beans are beloved. They are an affordable, filling, fiber-and-protein-infusing staple in pantries and food stashes around the world. To say that beans are versatile is now a cliche. Ask any long-time vegetarian about the range of products that can be molded from soybeans, and you would be impressed if not slightly disbelieving.
Beans are a natural complement for chili, because they absorb the spicy flavors and are satisfying and comforting. One of my favorite beans to use for making bean chili is the Adzuki bean. These beans are much quicker cooking than red beans or kidney beans and they keep their shape after cooking. It’s a satisfying mouthful.
For some recipes, like chili, it’s worth having whole spices available. The flavor of spices that you grate or crush yourself will awaken the taste of a bean-based chili beyond what chili powder alone can do. I’m not talking about hot and spicy. I’m talking about a warm spiciness that complements delicate beans like Adzuki.
This recipe, also, is encouragement for adding more high-fiber foods like beans to your weekly dinner menu and for recognizing National Heart Month, beginning in February. If you’re not already doing so, consider a meatless Monday recipe that includes beans. Tofu, made from soy beans, will boost the protein in this chili dish. Roasting it with Miso Tamari sauce or with Teriyaki sauce will up the umami factor. So start simmering and cook up a tasty bean chili for yourself and for those you love.
*Disclaimer: This post is not intended to be medical advice. Please see your medical professional about a heart-healthy diet.
Recipe: Adzuki Bean Chili with Roasted Tofu (Serves Six Generously)
Ingredients (Adzuki Beans)
2 cups dry Adzuki beans
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 can diced, unsalted tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth or hot water
1 cup crushed, strained tomatoes
- Add sorted,* dry beans to a 3-quart (minimum size) saucepan. Add four cups of water, garlic, onion, and oil to beans and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Add a pinch of the salt to beans, stir, and cover beans. Turn pot to medium-low heat and allow beans to cook for 20 minutes until they begin to soften. (Mash one of the beans between your fingers to test softness. The test bean should be soft but still have its shape.)
- Season the beans with the cumin powder, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and another pinch of salt. Taste the beans to test the amount of salt you have added and to guard against over salting.
- Pour in the can of tomatoes and the vegetable broth and simmer on low for an additional 15-20 minutes. Open the lid to stir beans once or twice during this time.
- Pour in the crushed, strained tomatoes and adjust seasoning with a pinch or two more of salt, if needed. Stir to incorporate the ingredients.
- Add roasted tofu (see recipe below), garnish with finely chopped red onion and serve.
- Slice tofu strips and then into 1-inch cubes (see photo on right).
- Marinate tofu in miso tamari or in teriyaki sauce for 15 minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Spray a 2-quart shallow baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Roast tofu for 15 minutes or until browned and crispy looking on the edges.
* Sometimes bulk, dried beans can contain small stones, husks, or other debris. Sort through the beans before cooking to identify and remove such debris.