Thursday, January 12, 2012

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash: A year of "yes"

2012 is going to be the year of "yes."

Or at least that's what I'm telling people. It sounds considerably more profound than my other new year's resolutions -- get to a point where I can afford my monthly car payments, floss more and my personal favorite... participate in a flash mob. (Bonus points if the song is Michael Jackson's "Thriller.")

While it's my job to be a "yes" woman in my professional life, I haven't been so good at "yes" in my personal life. I've become an expert at coming up with excuses of why I can't say "yes." Usually something along the lines of, "I'm tired." "I need to use up my kale." "I might be getting sick."

And, the ever redundant, "I'm signed up for a Bar Method class."

It's easy to say "no" and do what I always do because it's safe and comfortable and doesn't require me to put on makeup and clothes that don't have elastic waistbands. It's easy to hibernate at home and eat the same quinoa dinner I've had three nights in a row. It's easy to pretend that I'm okay with letting the last lingering months of my 20s (21 to be exact) pass by without acknowledging that I'm getting older and won't always be able to wear a backless top without a bra.

Not that I would do that.

But, I could.


If I keep going to those Bar Method classes.

The funny thing is that I rarely regret saying "yes." At least not until the next morning when the alarm goes off at 6 am and I realize that the second (or third) glass of wine wasn't the brilliant idea it seemed to be the night before. Yet even in those self-loathing, stomach-churning moments, I feel a glimmer of satisfaction that I feel miserable because I had that much fun.

My favorite memories of 2011 are of the nights when I abandoned my personality to stay out past my bed time, to drink and eat a little more than I should have, and to enjoy the moment without thinking too much about the consequences of that moment. I want more of that this year -- more enjoying and less thinking. More "yes" and less "no."

In as many aspects of my life as possible.

I'm saying "yes" to second slices of cake. "Yes" to skinny jeans (until those second slices of cake catch up with me). And "yes" to black bean chili -- a recipe I've been wanting to make ever since I saw Esi rave about it on her blog, Dishing Up Delights nearly a year ago.

After months of staring at the bag of black beans I'd bought to make the chili, I finally made it, symbolically, on New Year's Day. It was everything Esi promised it would be -- sultry, smoky and dramatically flavorful and hearty for a chili not containing any meat. I served it simply with a generous heap of Greek yogurt and cilantro.

It was the perfect way to begin my year of "yes." A year of possibility.

And flash mobs.

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Couscous
Adapted from Dishing Up Delights (via Bon Appetit)
Serves 4-5

Adaptations: I used extra butternut squash (nearly double what it called for), added cumin, and used whole wheat couscous instead of bulgur. I also used vegetable broth instead of just water.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/4 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
1 cup dried black beans (resist the urge to use canned), rinsed
1 chipotle chile from canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
1 teaspoons dried oregano
5 cups water
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon vegetable base
2-pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup whole wheat couscous
Greek yogurt
Cilantro, chopped

Heat a large heavy-bodied saucepan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and swirl it around so it coats the base of the pan. Add the onions and cook, stirring rather frequently, for a good ten minutes or until they are soft and well-browned. Add the garlic and cook for another couple minutes. Turn down the heat, and add the coriander, cumin and chili powder, stirring for a minute so the spices get slightly toasty and fragrant, but don't burn.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the beans, and oregano. Add 5 cups water and the vegetable base. Bring to a boil, than reduce the heat and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Simmer, stirring occasionally to check on the amount of liquid, until the beans are tender (about 2-3 hours depending on how fresh your beans are -- mine took close to 3).

Add the butternut squash and continue cooking, uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in the whole wheat couscous and cook for another 10 minutes until the couscous pearls have plumped up and the squash is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately topped with Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro.


Gastronomer said...


When are we going out for HAPPY HOUR?

Esi said...

Best chili ever.

SoCalTiger said...

When do you add the chipolte chili?