Bobby Flay’s Vegetable Chili with Cumin-Lime Yogurt & Avocado-Shishito Relish

Wow. This was the best vegetarian chili I have ever experienced. It was a little bit labor intensive to prepare but the house smelled incredible and the resulting meal was worth the work.

This recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay’s new cookbook, Beat Bobby Flay, via today.com. Even after decreasing and adjusting the chili powders in the recipe, the chili was on the spicy side. It was well tempered with all of the toppings and I also served it over rice to balance the heat. Next time, I may omit one teaspoon of chili powder, noted below.

I loved all of the toppings and garnishes. The cotija cheese was absolutely essential. Healthy and fabulous vegetarian comfort food.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Cumin-Lime Yogurt: (Makes 1 cup)

  • 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, finely zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Avocado-Shishito Relish: (Makes about 2 cups)

  • 2 Hass avocados, cut into large dice
  • 2 T finely diced red onion
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 shishito peppers

For the Vegetable Chili:

  • 8 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp guajillo chile powder (I ground a guajillo chile in a spice grinder)
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder, optional (next time I would omit it)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer (I used a Fat Tire amber)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole plum tomatoes, undrained (I used San Marzano)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms (about 11 oz), stems discarded, caps cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 cups 1/2-inch-diced peeled eggplant (1 large or 2 medium, about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions, green tops and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon clover honey

To Serve:

  • Cumin-Lime Yogurt (recipe above)
  • Avocado-Shishito Relish (recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated or crumbled queso blanco
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Cotija cheese
  • fried tortillas strips or crumbled tortilla chips, for garnish (optional)
  • cornbread or cornbread muffins, for serving, optional

To Make the Cumin-Lime Yogurt:

  1. Whisk together the yogurt, lime zest, lime juice, and cumin in a small bowl.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours before serving.

To Make the Avocado-Shishito Relish:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the avocado, onion, lime juice, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Using a fork, coarsely mash the ingredients together.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering.
  5. Add the shishitos, season with salt and pepper, and cook until charred on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool for a few minutes, then finely dice.
  6. Gently fold in the diced shishitos into the avocado mixture to combine.

Note: The relish can be made up to 4 hours in advance, tightly covered and refrigerated.

To Make the Vegetable Chili:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Add all of the chile powders, the coriander, and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant and deepen in color, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the beer and cook over medium heat until the mixture is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften and break down, about 10 minutes. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, coarsely mash the tomatoes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the oregano. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 20 minutes.
  9. While the sauce is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat.
  10. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring a few times, until golden brown and their liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl.
  11. Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil.
  12. Working in batches, add the eggplant in a single layer, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring a few times, until golden brown and soft, about 5 minutes per batch. Add more oil, if necessary. (I cooked the eggplant in 3 batches.) Transfer the eggplant to the bowl of mushrooms.
  13. Add the eggplant, mushrooms, and black beans to the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  14. Cook for 15 minutes to meld the flavors and thicken the mixture.
  15. Stir in the cilantro and scallions and season with the honey, salt and pepper.

To Serve:

  1. Ladle the chili into bowls, top with a dollop of the cumin-lime yogurt and avocado-shishito relish.
  2. At the table, pass the queso blanco and Cotija cheeses, as well as some tortilla chips, if desired, to sprinkle over the top of the chili.
  3. Offer cornbread or cornbread muffins on the side, if desired.

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