Beans and pulses are a big part of my diet, as I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old. They’re packed full of protein, iron, fibre, vitamins and minerals, are low fat, and count towards your recommended daily five-a-day. One of my favourite ways to serve them is in this four-bean chilli, which is a real family favourite, even among the big meat eaters in our household (ie, Cardiff Daddy!). It’s one of those dishes I make in bulk and freeze extra portions of for days when I haven’t got time to cook properly but still want something nutritious to eat. It’s great with rice or tacos, over a jacket potato or even cold the next day for lunch. I love it with home-made guacamole, salsa and soured cream.
The big choice when making it is whether to go for tins of beans or dried ones. The tinned ones make it quicker and easier to make, but I think dried beans that you soak over night and cook yourself always taste way better, if you have the time. You can also vary the vegetables included or even the style of beans. I generally go for pinto beans, red kidney beans, black eyed beans and adzuki beans, but you could leave any of them out or swap with other varieties instead.
Ingredients – serves 4
400g dried beans – 100g each of pinto beans red kidney beans, black eyed beans and adzuki beans, or any combination of dried beans
1 400g can each of the above beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, or one cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon of soy sauce
1 teaspoon of Marmite
1 chunk of at least 70% dark chocolate (optional)
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 200g tin of sweetcorn
- Pre-soak the dried beans for at least eight hours. Drain and rinse. Bring to the boil in a large saucepan, cover and simmer for 1hr 15 minutes. Drain and rinse. When the beans have been simmering for about half an hour, you can continue with the rest of the recipe.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, red pepper. Cook on a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onions are translucent, but not browned.
- Add the tomato puree and all the herbs and spices. Stir to coat the vegetables for around a minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, soy sauce and Marmite. Simmer on a low heat for 15 or so minutes, until the vegetables are cooked but still have a slight crunch.
- Add the beans (either the pre-cooked ones, or the drained tinned ones), the sweetcorn and chocolate and cook on a low heat for around 15 minutes.
- Serve with plain rice, or tacos, soured cream, guacamole and salsa (recipes below).
Easy home-made guacamole – serves 4
Juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic, crushed.
½ teaspoon chilli flakes (or more if you like it spicier)
1 medium tomato, finely diced and the wet seedy bits discarded
- Scoop the flesh out of the avocados into a bowl and add the lemon juice, garlic and chilli. Mash with a fork until all the ingredients are blended.
- Add the diced tomato and stir in with the fork.
Easy home-made salsa – serves 4
4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 mild chillies, finely chopped
1 handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
Juice of half a lime or lemon
- Put all the ingredients into a bowl, stir to combine, adding a teaspoon of water if it seems a bit dry.
You can see all my tried and tested family recipes here.