This hearty, healthy, and delicious vegetarian bulgur chili is sure to convert even the most die-hard of meat lovers!
I’ve been keeping a pretty big secret the past few months. Owen is going to be a big brother! We are expecting a baby pretty soon, actually, at the end of December. I wanted to write about it here earlier, but I had a really hard time getting pregnant, and I’ve been pretty nervous and superstitious about it. I kept waiting to feel secure–after hearing the heartbeat at 7 weeks, after my Materni21 test at 10 weeks, after my NT scan at 12 weeks–but I didn’t really start to relax and enjoy my baby until my anatomy scan at 20 weeks, when everything looked great and I was regularly feeling kicks and flutters. Now all of a sudden I am 24 1/2 weeks and my third trimester is just around the corner! I figured it was finally time to share the news on my blog. We’re really excited to meet our new little one!
Five years ago, when I was pregnant with Owen, I had some MAJOR chili cravings. My office at the time (my company has since moved uptown) was in Soho, right near a casual lunch place that served the best veggie chili I’ve ever had in my life. It was on a rotating menu with the soups, and you could look the menu up online. I would check everyday, and if they had it, I would order a large bowl with extra bread on the side please 🙂 I was always completely ravenous by 1pm, as if I hadn’t eaten in…two hours.
With this baby, things are no different. I LOVE spicy food. I find myself adding red pepper flakes and sriracha to just about everything on my plate. And now that fall is finally here, I’m psyched to dig into some hot and spicy chili.
The only problem is, while Alex loves chili too, he’s not really down for vegetarian versions (which are my favorite–see my Easy Black Lentil Chili). Most of them are really bean-heavy, and he’s not a fan of legumes. This past week, when the temperature dipped a bit and a chili craving hit, I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I was determined to develop a veggie version my meat-loving husband would wholeheartedly enjoy.
The not-so-secret ingredient, given the title of this post? Bulgur!
Bulgur wheat is a whole grain that is naturally high in fiber and low in fat and calories (but watch out–since it’s wheat it’s not gluten-free). You are probably most familiar with it as the grain commonly used in tabbouli salads. As it turns out, bulgur is also a fantastic addition to chili. When it’s cooked it plumps and thickens and takes on a consistency similar to ground meat. You don’t even have to take my word for it. Alex said that the texture was exactly like chili made with ground beef, and this was the best vegetarian chili he’d ever had.
Which is a good thing, since I plan to serve A LOT of it over the next few months 🙂
Vegetarian Bulgur Chili
This simple vegetarian bulgur chili is sure to satisfy even the most die-hard meat lovers. It freezes beautifully for up to three months. I made the jalapeño and cayenne optional in this recipe. Definitely include them if you like a little spice! If you prefer a more mild chili, leave them out. The chili itself is vegan, though I love to top it with cheddar cheese and sour cream.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 2 jalapeños optional, minced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 3/4 cup bulgur
- 1 can crushed tomatoes 28-ounce
- 1 can diced tomatoes 15 ounce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 cans black beans 15-ounce, rinsed and drained
- Topping suggestions: shredded cheddar cheese sour cream, diced avocado, cilantro, minced jalapeños
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeños and cook until softened but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bulgur, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes (with their juices), salt, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the black beans and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the bulgur is tender-chewy and the chili thickens slightly, 10 to 15 minutes more. Serve with toppings of choice.