Sunday, 20 September 2009

Veggie chilli and salsa a.k.a. the tomato fest dinner

So the male companion person and top tomato fan has been harvesting a generous crop of several varieties of home-grown tomatoes every few days for the past month of so. Although he is happy to consume dozens (of the cherry sized ones) raw as a snack, even he hasn't managed to keep pace with the amount of fruit produced from his fifteen or so plants. So I decided to use up a fair chunk of the tomato backlog by making a veggie chilli and a tomato salsa.
As a non-meat eater I use Quorn products quite a lot, and used Quorn mince in this chilli. I think the key thing to remember with Quorn is that it is basically a protein substitute, and those fungal mycelium are not going to replicate the flavour or fat content that meat adds to food. So you need to make sure that whatever recipe you're using it in has plenty of other strong flavours that are sufficient to carry the dish, i.e. that you'd be happy to eat it without any actual Quorn in it.
Due to some uncertainty about what spices were present in the kitchen of the male companion person, I opted to use a sachet of Old El Paso chilli spice mix in this meal. It proved to be a perfectly adequate combination of paprika, cumin, etc, but was majorly lacking in heat- and this is coming from a chilli-wuss. However the addition of a few fresh chillis solved this problem quite easily.
The tomato salsa was essentially a selection of chopped up tomatoes, red onion and chopped basil which was a cooling contrast to the (actually not too spicy) chilli. I have started using basil rather than fresh corriander in salsas as I really like the almost astringent taste it has, and in this context I decided not to add any chopped chilli either.
Full recipes below, but tinned tomatoes can be substituted for fresh when not enjoying a tomato glut and freshly ground spices can be used if preferred. And obviously if you eat meat you can use this instead of Quorn.

Veggie chilli (enough for two with sufficient left over for lunch the next day)

350g Quorn mince
1 large white onion, chopped
4 big cloves of garlic, crushed
1 sachet Old El Paso chilli spice mix
2 tblsp tomato puree
About 500g fresh tomatoes, chopped
1-2 fresh chillis, finely chopped (depending on how hot you like your chilli)
1 yellow (or any other colour) pepper, chopped
1 tin cooked kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Generous amount of olive oil
Small glass of water, or enough to create appropriate chilli consistency
Salt and pepper to season (if needed)

Tomato salsa

As many tomatoes as you want, chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
Small handful of basil, torn
Lime juice and olive oil to dress
Salt and pepper to season

To make the chilli sweat down the onion in plenty of olive oil, then add the crushed garlic and cook gently without colouring. Drop in the chopped pepper, chillis and spice mix and fry gently for a few minutes. Add the Quorn mince, stir in and continue to cook slowly. Next add in the chopped tomatoes, the tomato puree and a little water. The tomatoes will release their juices as they cook down, and you can leave the pan on a low heat, stirring occasionally, as they do this. Add more water if the chilli looks too dry. I'd cook this for around 20mins on a low heat or until the tomatoes form a sauce for the mince, then add the kidney beans and continue to cook for another five minutes or so.
The ingredients for the salsa just need to be mixed together.
Serve the chilli with a handful of grated cheese on top, and the salsa and corn tortillas on the side.

Homegrown tomatoes
I rate them 10/10
Cost: Yet to be calculated

Old El Paso chilli spice mix
I rate it 6.5/10
Cost: Around £0.65


Shaheen said...

Looks good and a great way to use up those tomatoes.

Anonymous said...

this looks fab, and damned healthy to boot! Lovely stuff.

TheFastestIndian said...

Thanks Mangocheeks and Gastrogeek!

Was pretty yummy, and I guess quite healthy (though not sure this is accurately reflected in my somewhat, ahem, plump, stature!). Harvested several kilos more toms yesterday, about half are currently simmering in a tomato sauce and wondering what to do with the rest now....