I have never deliberately hidden vegetables in a meal to trick The Princess into eating them. Vegetables are usually highly visible in everything I cook. The Princess can choose to avoid them if she likes, although there are no other meal options, and certainly no dessert, if that is the path she chooses.
Bolognaise is the classic dish in which to hide vegetables, yet with no less than six hidden vegetables (seven if you count the beans) this chilli rivals any bolognaise. Chilli appears regularly on our dinner table in the winter months. I love its ease of preparation and the large quantity this dish produces. The hidden vegetables are just a bonus.
This chilli recipe starts with uncooked beans, which must be tender before the tomatoes and salt are added to the dish. If added too soon, the tomatoes and salt can cause the beans to toughen, which prevents them from cooking properly. You could substitute tinned beans should you prefer, which will not only allow you to add the tomatoes and salt at the start, but also reduce the cooking time. It will be necessary, however, to reduce the amount of beef stock if using canned beans
Eggplant can be a polarising vegetable, particularly amongst children. When cooked slowly, eggplant melts into the sauce, rendering itself invisible to the eagle eye of any child. If you like, roast the eggplant first, then scoop the roasted flesh out of the skin, chop finely and stir it into the dish. This helps it to disappear. If there is no time to roast the eggplant, peel it instead.
Whilst I have never done so, this chilli could be made in the slow cooker. Again use tinned beans, and employ the techniques outlined in my post 7 Tips for Great Tasting Slow Cooker Meals.
This is not a quick dish, but as it requires next to no attention once in the oven, it is an easy dish. The chilli freezes extremely well and, thanks to all the hidden vegetables, makes a great one pot dish for those nights (you know those nights). All it requires is some wholegrain cous cous or cornbread, and dinner is served.
Don't forget to ensure the beans are tender before adding the tomatoes and salt.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 -1½ teaspoons chipotle chilli powder
- 500g beef mince
- 1 small eggplant (approx 350g) finely chopped (peeled or roasted if preferred)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
- 2 cups grated zucchini (approx one large zucchini)
- 1 large red capsicum, finely chopped
- 250g pinto beans, soaked overnight and rinsed*
- 1 Litre beef stock
- 1 x 400ml tin crushed tomatoes
- 1 x 140g tin tomato paste
- Salt & Pepper
- Large bunch fresh coriander, chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced)
- Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof casserole dish (with a lid) over a medium heat.
- Fry the onion for 5 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Add the garlic, ground cumin & coriander, oregano and chipotle chilli powder.
- Fry for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is cooked and the spices have started to release their aroma.
- Add the beef mince, and cook for a further 3 minutes, or until the mince has browned slightly.
- Add the eggplant, carrots, zucchini, and capsicum.
- Fry the vegetables for 5 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the pinto beans and the beef stock, bring to the boil, then cover and place in the oven.
- Cook for 1 hour. Test the beans at the end of the cooking time to see whether they are done. If not, continue cooking and test every 15 minutes until the beans are tender.
- Once the beans are cooked, stir in the chopped tomatoes and the tomato paste.
- Season liberally with salt and pepper.
- Cook for a further 30 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, and stir through the chopped fresh coriander.
- Serve with your preferred accompaniment.
Canned beans can be substituted for the dried beans. Use 3 x 400ml tins of rinsed beans in place of the dried beans, and reduce the beef stock to 500ml.