Let’s face it: January sucks. About the only thing I can say for it is that it’s great chili weather — and chili is one of the easiest vegan meals you can make.
1. Start by chopping up a small onion or large shallot.
2. Saute it in a little olive oil. Once it’s browned, add two or three cloves of minced garlic.
3. Add a can each of chopped green chiles, diced tomatoes and black beans. I drain the beans and rinse them before I add them to the pan. I don’t remember why I do that, but somebody (my mom, probably) told me it was a good idea.
4. Season with chili powder and cumin.
5. Stir and bring to a boil. At this point, you can either cut back the heat and let it simmer, dish it up into containers to take to work, or serve it immediately. If you let it rest a few hours, the flavors will blend nicely. (If you want, you can add a tablespoon of cocoa powder or a splash of red wine along with the tomatoes to expedite that process.)
Also, keep in mind this is just a starting point. You can add green pepper if you have some on hand. For a meatier texture, add a handful of bulgur wheat or texturized vegetable protein. Want it thinner? Add water or tomato juice. Thicker? Add a little cornmeal. Hotter? Throw in a finely chopped serrano pepper. Feeding an army? Double or triple the recipe, or stretch it by serving it over rice or pasta. You get the idea. I made mine more photogenic by adding avocado slices, a dollop of Tofutti vegan sour cream and some sliced olives.