It’s time for Q & A Tuesday, The Blooming Platter’s first Tuesday focus on a “featured force” in the vegan culinary world shamelessly adopting Donald Lipton’s Q & A format from “Inside the Actor’s Studio.”
Featured Force: Nava Atlas
Nava Atlas has written many well-known vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, most recently Wild About Greens, Vegan Holiday Kitchen, and Vegan Soups and Hearty Stews for All Seasons. Her site, VegKitchen, is one of the leading web resources for vegan recipes and plant-based kitchen tips. Nava is also a visual artist, whose work has been shown nationally in museums, galleries, and alternative art spaces, and is part of numerous museum and university collections. Specializing in limited edition artist’s books, her personal work deals with themes of gender and social justice. You can see more of her work at Nava Atlas Art. Nava lives in New Paltz, NY, not far from her beloved NYC.
Q & A
Quick Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
With the addition of sweet potatoes, this easy chili is filling and warming. Baking or microwaving the sweet potatoes ahead of time cuts down on both the preparation as well as the cooking time. Serve with stone-ground whole grain tortillas — they’re great for dipping into the chili, or even for grabbing some of it, soft taco style. Serve with a simple salad and/or a side of sautéed greens or steamed broccoli. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.
Serves: 6 or more
2 medium-large sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
5 cups cooked or three 15- to 16-ounce cans (drained and rinsed) black beans
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted)
1 or 2 small fresh hot chiles, minced,
or one 8-ounce can chopped mild green chiles
2 teaspoons good-quality chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin, or more, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro, or more, to taste, plus more for garnish
Salt to taste
Bake or microwave the sweet potatoes until just firm. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch dice. Set aside until needed.
Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro and salt. Add 1/2 cup water, bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat and cover. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.
Add the sweet potato dice and continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender and all the flavors are nicely melded.
Stir in the cilantro, then season gently with salt. If time allows, let stand off the heat for an hour or two, then heat through as needed. Top each serving with extra cilantro, if desired.