Cincinnati Chili. You might know it as Skyline Chili or chili spaghetti. No matter what you call it, it’s delicious. How did this recipe from the third largest city in Ohio get to be a nationally-known (and perfect for rainy Portland!) dish? It’s been around since the 1920s, the spices involved brought to the US by immigrants from the Mediterranean region who settled in Cincinnati. Skyline Chili restaurants expanded the dish’s reach outside of Ohio, and today the recipe is included in many comfort food cookbooks.
As a traditional chili lover, I was skeptical to try a “chili” with radical ingredients and served over spaghetti. Cocoa powder? Cinnamon? Plus, it’s made with ground beef, a definite no-no for a plant-based eater. Recently I came upon a veganized version and figured I’d give it a shot – a cold, rainy football Sunday was the perfect occasion.
It worked. While definitely a departure from what I expect from chili, the recipe (and my modifications) came together into a delicious dish. It’s the perfect recovery or day-before-a-workout food – carbs, proteins, and healthy fats provide a well-rounded meal for any athlete (vegan or not – I promise, meat eaters will love it!).
- 1 box spaghetti (12oz) (regular, whole wheat, gluten free – it’s up to you!)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup TVP*
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch ground cloves
- Dash cayenne pepper (increase or decrease based on desired spice level)
- 1 (15-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 (15-oz) can beans, rinsed and drained (choose whichever beans you prefer – kidney beans are traditional, but I used white beans in mine)
- 1 avocado, sliced
*(Textured Vegetable Protein – sounds scary, but I promise, it’s easy! To prepare, combine 1 cup TVP with 1 cup hot water and let sit until soaked in, about five minutes)
- Prepare spaghetti according to package directions – set aside.
- Preheat a 4ish-quart pot (I used enameled cast iron) and add oil. Add veggies through bell pepper plus TVP and a pinch of salt and saute for five-ish minutes, then add garlic and saute another 30 seconds.
- Stir in the spices – chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, ground cinnamon, dried oregano, ground cloves, and cayenne pepper.
- Add tomatoes, broth, and cocoa powder. Stir to combine. Cover the pot, but leave it cracked so steam can escape. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add beans and stir – simmer for long enough to heat through.
- Spoon spaghetti into bowls and top with chili and sliced avocado. Enjoy!
The addition of TVP creates a meaty, thick dish that will fool even omnivores. Be sure to adjust the salt after you add your broth – some broths are more salty than others and you don’t want to over or under do it! Don’t be afraid to mix things up and add veggies that are in season – peppers and carrots aren’t part of the usual recipe, but I wanted to add some color and flavor. The chili is even better the next day as leftovers – it’ll keep for up to five days in the fridge.
*Recipe adapted from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz [http://www.isachandra.com/]
Kate Cornelius is a #nomeatathlete running and eating her way around Portland. She loves to cook and share her culinary creations on Instagram (find her on Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/kateecorn/] and Twitter [https://twitter.com/kateecorn] as @kateecorn). A runner, yogi, triathlete, and all-around fitness fan, Kate plans to run a 50K and 70.3 distance tri in 2017!