I was among the fortunate few invited to the Kings River home of Dr. Sharon Sloan, head of the Carroll County Literacy Council, to share a heart healthy dinner with a main course derived from a South Texas staple, black bean chili. Don't be put off by the "heart healthy" label; you can tart this marvelous dish up with ground meat, chicken chunks or layers of topside add-ons like cheese and avocados if you want.
This simple to make dish looks beautiful and is low in calories while satisfying the hearty appetite. Best of all, at least for ad hoc cooks like me, it is substitution friendly and the ingredients are readily available.
South Texas Black Bean Chili
Black beans, 2 cans, don't drain
White corn, 2 cans, don't drain
Tomatoes, 3 cans Rotel brand, diced, drain (heat is your preference)
Jalapeño green peppers, 1 small can
Yellow squash, 1 medium
Zucchini, 1 medium. Add it and the squash late so they stay firm
Okra, 8-12 pods. Chop up fine to thicken the chili.
Cilantro, fresh, 1 handful, chopped up and thrown in.
Onions, 1 large, chopped fine.
Garlic, 3 cloves
Lime, 1 whole, squeezed in when you put in the squash.
Peppers, 1 each red, orange, and yellow peppers.
Bay leaf, to taste but at least 1
Ground cumin, ½ teaspoon--or to taste
Chili powder, 1 teaspoon--or to taste
Put all the tomatoes and spices in a large pot, then add the peppers, onions and garlic and cook on medium for about 20-30 minutes. Add the other ingredients, except for the yellow squash and zucchini, and cook on low for another 30 minutes. Add the squash and zucchini and cook another 20 minutes or so. Leave sitting (no heat) for a while so flavors mingle, depending on how long you have before serving. Warm up at last minute when ready to serve.
Sharon's table was made quite festive with several small bowls of garnish that included cilantro, lime slices, avocado, grated cheese, and so on. South Texas Black Bean Chili can be served with chips, warm tortillas, cornbread, or even crusty Italian or French bread.