Monday, September 12, 2011

Chicken Chili with Pesto

Like the Tomato Soup with Chickpeas and Pesto that I made last week, this chili gets an unexpected touch from pesto stirred in at the end.

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 Gardein Tuscan chicken breasts (without sauce)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped carrot
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1/4 cup canned chopped green chiles
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (16-ounce) rinsed and drained can cannellini beans
  • 1 and 3/4 cups vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 3 tablespoons Classic Pesto*
1. Heat the canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Cut the Gardein chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan, along with the onion; saute for 5 minutes.  Add the carrot, red bell pepper, and celery; saute for 4 minutes.

2. Add the green chiles, oregano, cumin, salt, black pepper, cannellini beans, and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.  Stir in the pesto just before serving.

*Since I made my pesto over a week ago, this was a good opportunity to test how it froze for later use.  For full freezing instructions, see post for Classic Pesto; after thawing in the fridge, it still came out smelling of fresh basil.  Likewise, if you want to freeze the whole chili, it freezes quite well.  Cool in the refrigerator completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container.  Thaw the chili and the pesto separately in the fridge the day you want it for dinner.  Cook the chili in a skillet over medium-low heat until heated, and stir in the pesto just before serving.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 and 1/4 cups), Calories 327 

Tasting Notes:
"Tender" is the word that came to mind with this chili, because the vegetables were chopped so finely, and the cannellini beans were melt-in-your-mouth.  Likewise, the broth was almost silky from the pesto.  I've never had a white chili before - versus what is known as "red chile" made with tomato broth and beef (or the vegan alternative) - so I didn't have anything to compare this recipe too.  Therefore, I'm not sure how spicy a white chili usually is, but I found the level of spice here to be lacking.  I would add chili powder or fresh chopped jalapeno next time.  In fact, I think if the broth were thickened with a roux of non-dairy milk and flour, it would make an excellent pot pie filling instead.  As a chili, it was a touch bland, but tasty nonetheless.  As a side note, I was quite pleased with how well the Classic Pesto retained its flavor and texture after thawing - a great tip to keep in mind for the winter ahead.


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