Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chilli

Last weekend I had a few friends round for dinner, so I spent about a week beforehand thinking about what to cook that would suit everyone. It had to be vegetarian, gluten-free, easy to make and also a bit impressive. Chilli seemed to tick all the boxes – plus it meant I could do the majority of the cooking before people arrived.

I already had a good chilli recipe (featured on the Sainsbury’s Magazine website a few years ago!) but I wanted something a bit different, that didn’t rely on Quorn, and was more packed with beans and veg. I brainstormed until I came up with this – and was very pleased with the result! I’ll definitely be making it again soon, and fully expect it to become an autumn staple.

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Ingredients (serves 6):
– 1 large onion, roughly chopped
– 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
– 2 chillis (your choice of colour; scrape out the seeds if you prefer it less hot), finely chopped
– 2 sticks celery, washed and roughly chopped
– 2 large sweet potatoes (about 750g), peeled and chopped into chunks
– 2 peppers (1 red; 1 yellow), deseeded and chopped
– 1 tsp chilli powder
– 2 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 2 tsp smoked paprika
– 1 tsp oregano
– 1 tbsp red pesto
– 1 large glass red wine (about 250ml)
– 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
– 3 x 380g cartons black beans, drained and rinsed
– 500ml vegetable stock
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 heaped tsp cocoa powder
– large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
– salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat about 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saucepan or wok. Add the onion, garlic, chilli and celery, and cook for 8 minutes, or until softened.

2. Add the sweet potato and cook for 10 minutes before adding the peppers. Cook for a further 10 minutes, then add the spices; stir to coat and cook for a further minute or so.

3. Stir through the pesto, then add the wine, tomatoes, beans, stock, bay leaf and cocoa. If your pan isn’t big enough to fit everything at once don’t worry: you can always add the stock gradually as the chilli reduces.

4. Mix everything together and bring to the boil, then turn the heat right down and allow it to simmer and reduce. You can leave it like this for as long as you like – I’d say 45 minutes at a minimum, but mine ended up being on for about an hour and a half, as I just left it on until people arrived (if you do this you’ll need to add a splash of water so it doesn’t reduce too much). Make sure you give it a stir every 15-20 minutes to make sure nothing’s sticking .

5. Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf, then add the chopped coriander and season to taste. You can serve it however you like – I had jasmine rice, chopped spring onions, soured cream, grated cheddar and gorgeous homemade guacamole.

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