Truth be told, I love a good meal plan. I like to sit down on Sunday, plan out meals for the week, and make my grocery list accordingly. It’s just that sometimes (and by sometimes I mean often) LIFE happens. Oh, life. And doesn’t it just happen at the most convenient of times? You know, the times when the freshest thing you have in your refrigerator is a half-eaten jar of jam or some sad-looking carrots, and you’re standing there with the fridge door open trying to convince yourself you can so make dinner tonight.
Although I like to be prepared, I do find myself in this scenario from time to time. That’s when I look to my pantry for inspiration. A general rule that I live by is that even if I have very little fresh food in the house, I can still make dinner from what I have on hand. I always keep the basics stocked in my pantry: canned beans, pasta, chicken or veggie broth, and canned tomatoes; this way I can always throw something easy and healthy together for dinner. And isn’t it even better if that dinner can be made in one pot with inexpensive, everyday ingredients? I’d say a big, resounding yes.
Enter my super Easy Vegetarian Chili Mac. It checks off all the major requirements for a weeknight crowd-pleaser: fast, simple, tasty, healthy, and family-friendly. The best part about this chili (besides the fact that it can be made in 30 minutes) is that you can change up the ingredients based on what you have on hand. Don’t have black beans? Double the pinto beans. Only have fire-roasted tomatoes? Sounds delicious to me. Bonus: if you have a couple of fresh touches to throw on top (dollop of Stonyfield Greek Yogurt, shredded cheese, or chopped cilantro) even better. You could even make it a DIY Chili Bar and let everyone dress up their dinner however they please.
We served our chili in big bowls with some sliced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese and a spoonful of Greek Yogurt for some tanginess.
Easy Vegetarian Chili Mac
Yield: 4 Generous Servings
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Season with chili powder and salt.
Pour half of the pinto beans into the pot and mash using a potato masher or a fork. The mixture doesn’t need to be completely mashed, some of the beans can just be lightly mashed. Stir to combine the mixture with the onions.
Add the rest of the pinto beans, the black beans, diced tomatoes, tomatoes and chiles, vegetable stock and seasonings. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered for 5-10 minutes. At this point it may look like too much liquid but the pasta will absorb some of this when it cooks in the next step.
Add pasta and simmer for an additional 7-10 minutes until pasta is al dente. Check for seasonings, and add more chili powder for spice or salt for taste.
Serve chili topped with a dollop of yogurt, some cheese, avocado and crushed tortilla chips.
– Chili always tastes better as it sits, however, the pasta will continue to absorb the liquid and expand. It will still taste just as good!
– If you like a spicier chili, add more chipotle powder or sauté some finely chopped jalapeno with the onion.
– I like to taste my tomatoes after I open the can to see how sweet they are. Some canned tomatoes will be sweeter than others, so if that’s the case, add more chipotle powder or a squeeze of lime juice to balance out the sweetness.
– Try switching up the pasta shape with corkscrews or elbow macaroni.