After a few days of short ribs, cheesy polenta, and cookies, my body was in desperate need of something healthy. While surfing the internet for new and interesting recipes, I came across one for black-eyed pea and kale chili with Monterey Jack cheese from Andrew Carmellini’s new cookbook, American Flavors. I have and love Carmellini’s first cookbook, Urban Italian, and was excited to try something from the new cookbook. I had chipotle chili in adobo left over from the short ribs and roommate Alex keeps the fridge stocked with large amounts of kale so this recipe had the potential to be tasty, healthy, and fridge cleaning.
Black-Eyed Pea and Kale Chili with Monterey Jack Cheese (adapted from American Flavors by Andrew Carmellini and Gwen Hyman)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 slices bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained
2 cups chicken broth
1 or 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped fine
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon honey
1 bunch Tuscan or green kale (about 1/2 pound) stems removed, leaves washed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium flame. Add the bacon and allow it to render a bit (about 2 minutes), stirring regularly to stop it from sticking.
Add the onion, celery and garlic. Stir well to coat everything in the fat, and keep cooking for about 2 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Add black eyed-peas.
Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, 1 cup of water and the chipotle peppers, cumin and coriander. Stir to mix everything together well; then let the chili cook, uncovered, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the flavors come together. Stir in the honey and mustard.
Stir in the kale and cook for 10 minutes or so, until the kale is soft.
Serve the chili in large bowls with the Monterey Jack cheese grated on top.
As I was making the chili, I knew it would be good but I didn’t realize how delicious and satisfying it would be until I had my first bite. I really enjoyed the smokiness of the chili from the chipotle peppers and the crunch of the kale. Best of all, I loved the bites that included a small piece of bacon. I had my doubts as to whether this chili would be hearty enough but I was full after one bowl, but served myself another ladle-full because I couldn’t stop eating this flavorful chili. Lucky for me this vitamin-packed chili is quick and easy to make for those days I need something healthy and filling.