Like many, many (MANY) folks, I grew up with The Silver Palate, Silver Palate Good Times, and The New Basics as part of my culinary world. My connection to the books and the authors runs deep (see here and here for more on that, if your curiosity is piqued at all). I read these books in bed with a flashlight after I should have been asleep. You can call me a nerd, it’s ok—I’m aware. (Later in life I was doing other things when I should have been sleeping that were more questionable).
I really taught myself how to cook from these books. My mom was and is a terrific cook, but somehow there wasn’t a whole lot of side by side cooking back in those days. Now we stand hip to hip in the kitchen, along with my sister, for Thanksgiving dinner, and other big family meals, infrequent though they are.
Cooking with Kids
I guess the reality was that cooking with a little kid is work, and cooking with adults who know what they are doing is both pleasurable and helpful. As an advocate of getting kids into the kitchen, I have to raise a fist for putting in the pay-it-forward effort of involving your kids in the cooking process. As a grown-up who is raising kids and trying to get them engaged in making food, I do agree that it can be a true labor of love. Which I have mixed success with.
The New Basics
The New Basics came out when I was in college and (again, not just to me) it became my cooking bible. It had almost unparalleled depth and breadth—very personal and very idiosyncratic in its recipe choices. There was lots of information on things that many of us had never given much consideration to—the many types of lettuces available, or the grain options in the world (quinoa! who knew?). How to cook a pheasant. Recipes for microwaved fish—tilapia! Fried rice with shrimp. French onion soup. All in ONE book!
Instant Pot Vegetable Chili from the New Basics Cookbook: The classic perfect vegetarian chili recipe, reinterpreted for the Instant Pot.Tweet This
And there was a vegetable chili that made lots of people happy. Keep in mind, this was when you couldn’t swing an eggplant and hit a vegetarian at your own table. The Moosewood Cookbooks had been out for some time, and Anna Thomas’ The Vegetarian Epicure books, but there weren’t a flotilla of vegetarian recipes coming at you across Pinterest and Instagram and blogs (because none of those had been invented yet).
Instant Pot Vegetable Chili
Oh my god, before I start rambling about how candy bars cost $.25 when I was a whippersnapper let me tell you about this vegetable chili. It’s straightforward, it’s delicious, it’s cheap, it’s just what a vegetarian chili should be. And I have taken the liberty of translating it for the instant pot, and the slow cooker function of the instant pot at that. Which mean of course that you can cook it in a regular Crock Pot or slow cooker, but you will have to sauté some of the ingredients first. And this is why the instant pot is the first line of equipment choice, because you can sauté it right in that appliance.
You can also cook it in a regular pot on the stove. Onc e all of the ingredients are combined in the pot just let it simmer away, stirring occasionally, for an hour or so.
The vegetables get simmered for a while, and then the beans and fresh herbs get added in, so they keep their texture and freshness.
But however you make it it’s delicious. And if you also choose to make it in a pot over low heat on the stovetop as originally writ then absolutely go and do that. And if you don’t have the book, do yourself a favor a buy it; The New Basics is a classic if ever there was one, and while a handful of recipes in the book may feel dated, there is a lot of gold in those pages, and you will find some real joy with this volume at your side in the kitchen.
Other Meatier Chili Recipes:
Instant Pot Vegetable Chili
- 1 medium-size eggplant unpeeled, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- ¼ cup olive oil divided
- 2 medium-size yellow onions cut into ¼ -inch dice
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 2 large green bell peppers cored, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 can (35 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes
- 1 ½ pounds fresh ripe Italian plum tomatoes cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 cup canned dark red kidney beans drained
- 1 cup canned chick-peas garbanzos, drained
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- ½ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Hot cooked rice
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Sour cream
- Sliced scallions
- Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Let stand for 1 hour. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Press Saute and use the Saute or the Adjust button to select the lowest temperature, which might say “Less”. Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the inner pot and let it heat up. Add half the eggplant and sauté until almost tender. Remove the eggplant to a plate, and repeat with 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and the rest of the eggplant.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in the Instant Pot. Add the onions, garlic, and green peppers and sauté just until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the the eggplant with any juices, the canned tomatoes with their liquid, fresh tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, basil, pepper, salt, and fennel seeds. Stir well. Close and lock the lid. Set the valve to Venting. Attach the condensation collector. Press Cancel, then Press Slow Cook and use the Slow Cook or Adjust button to select the middle temperature (“Normal”). Use the + or – button to set the time to 4 hours.
- When the cooking time is finished, press Cancel and remove the lid.
- Stir in the kidney beans, chick-peas, dill, parsley and lemon juice. Replace the lid and use the Slow Cook or Adjust button to reselect the middle temperature, and the + or – button to set the time for another 30 minutes, until everything is hot and tender and your house smells great. Stir well and taste and adjust seasonings.
- Serve hot with rice and sour cream, scallions and lots of shredded cheddar cheese.
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