Meaty Chili Without the Meat

Time: 20 minutes preparation 20 to 40 minutes no-work cooking time

The deep meaty flavor of this chili comes not from beef but loads of fresh mushrooms; the more shiitakes you can afford, the meatier this will taste.

Although the recipe was developed for 4, it can be expanded in almost infinite ways, which makes it a fine candidate for doubling up and freezing half for a rainy day. To double or triple the recipe, figure on a generous ¼ pound mushrooms and ½ can beans per person.

Although this is delicious served over a bowl of rice, it is better yet over polenta. Include as many of the condiments as you have on hand or have time to prepare.


  • 1 to 2 pounds fresh mushrooms, combination domestic and shiitake
  • 2 hot chilies, green or red, fresh or pickled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons ground chili powder
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) beans, black, red kidney, or pink
  • ½ cup spaghetti sauce, homemade or prepared
  • Salt
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice Condiments (optional): Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, lime wedges, chopped fresh tomatoes, plain yogurt or sour cream, and shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Stem, rinse, and coarsely chop the mushrooms (reserve the stems for soup). Seed and mince the chilies.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, reduce the heat to low, and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chilies, spices, beans, and spaghetti sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on how much time you have. The longer this simmers, the more blended the taste will be. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the rice. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the rice, lower the heat, and cook the rice covered until tender, about 18 minutes.
  5. Serve the chili hot over rice with the condiments.