Even the best cook struggles with limited time each week to make the home cooked meals they want to make and still get everything on their checklist done. With school back in session, your family may also be experiencing this feeling of time shortage. That’s why when you do cook, it’s important to make it count for not just one meal but multiple meals that you can easily throw together.
Enter my Tomatillo White Bean Chili. Making this one filling dish will help you feel like your time was well spent, especially when you’re breezing through days two and three meals that will require no more than a little imagination. Here’s how this one dish is an ideal foundation for multiple meal planning and how you can apply these same principles back in your own kitchen.
- Brown rice does take time to cook, around 30-40 minutes, but it’s worth it. As a nutritious whole grain that can be used as the foundation of numerous dishes, cook extra so you’re only having to watch the clock once during the week to make this hearty starch.
- The flavor base of this chili uses the blender to chop everything instead of manual hand chopping. This sauce is also great over fish, mixed into guacamole, or as a dressing for a potato salad. Once you make it, go ahead and make extra and use it multiple ways.
- Look for other shortcuts like frozen vegetables when you don’t have time to buy fresh, and organic canned beans when you don’t have time to soak and cook dried beans, as we use in this chili recipe.
One of the tricks of making one meal last is that your family must love the flavor components of the original dish. This chili hits all the familiar take-out flavor notes.
- Tomatillos, garlic, onion, jalapeno, lime and cilantro as our flavor base will remind your family of their favorite Mexican take-out dishes. When you decide to make an anchor dish that you’ll transform into multiple meals, start with a base you know every member of the family will like.
- Another flavor base I use often is onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes (Italian in a box), hot red pepper flakes and a little white wine. From this base, I can throw in shrimp and serve it over quinoa, or I can toss a little ground turkey or grass fed beef in and create a fast and yummy pasta dish.
Instead of worrying about your family turning their noses up at leftovers, turn day two and three meals into fun flavor adventures where the kids, young and small, feel they are making choices in building a dish that will delight their unique taste buds.
Fun Toppings as Options:
- Probably the most important aspect of day two and three meals is a bar of options that mix in the new with the leftover. Even the first night you serve the chili, give a few extra options, like purple cut cabbage for crunch, hot sauce or salsa on the side, shredded cheese and sour cream. This way, each member will feel they can build their dish exactly how they want it.
- Day two and three options like a taco salad or stuffed burrito follow the same logic. Why not take some leftover blue corn tortilla chips and crush them with your hands as a fun salad topping that’s crunchy? Green onions, extra herbs, and other sauces you may find in your refrigerator that you know your family already love can also be great toppings.
Here are my two favorite ways to use leftover chili for my family’s meals. I hope you fall in love with my late summer Tomatillo White Bean Chili for your back-to-school menu planning. As the chief family cook, don’t forget that you deserve nights off, too. When you challenge your family to use their imagination from what you already have on hand to build a beautiful plate with color, crunch, and flavor, you can relish in the hard work you’ve put into getting them to their leftover masterpieces!
If you’re looking for ways to make planning your weekly family meals a little easier and time efficient, join me in my Joyful 12 Kitchen Learning Lab for a year of eating in season. You’ll be able to explore and cook 144 recipes making 48 vegetables and fruits sing with flavor, access video tutorials for prepping produce quickly and with imagination, and join a community of families just like yours who are passionate about feeding their loves ones well.
- tomatillos, 4 medium sized
- garlic, 2 cloves
- cilantro, 1 cup (packed)
- onion (white), medium sized, 1/2
- jalapeño pepper, medium sized, 1
- salt, 2.5 tsp
- lime, 1
- olive oil, 2 TBS
- chili powder, 2 TBS
- ground cumin, 1 TBS
- navy beans, 2 cans (15 oz size)
- green bell pepper, 2
- corn kernels, frozen, 1 bag (10 oz size)
- water, 2 cups
- brown rice, 6 cups cooked
- cheddar cheese (organic), 4 oz (optional topping)
- sour cream, 1/2 cup (optional topping)
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Wash all produce.
- We like to serve this chili over brown rice. You can also choose to eat it plain. If you’re making brown rice, we recommend cooking two cups dry, to yield six cups cooked. Follow the instructions on the package of the rice you’ve purchased. Put the rice on early while you are preparing the chili, so they’ll be done at the same time.
- Turn on your oven’s broiler to high.
- Remove the husks from the tomatillos.
- Rinse the tomatillos under water to remove the sticky coating. Cut them into halves, and place on a parchment or tin foil lined cookie sheet with raised sides, and broil for 10 minutes.
- Peel the garlic and set aside.
- Measure out 1 cup cilantro, packed. Don’t fuss with picking leaves. Just rip off the tops of the cilantro. They will go in a blender, so it does not need to be perfect.
- Peel and cut the onion into two halves. One half will go into the blender as well, so go ahead and quarter it to make it easier to blend.
- Deseed the jalapeño. The easiest way to do this is to cut down one side, like you would an apple, trying to avoid the core. Then, you can cut down the other three sides. You should be left with a stem attached to the spicy seeds. Discard the stem and seeds. The remaining pieces will go into the blender. Don't forget to wash your hands after handling the jalapeño! The oils from the pepper get on your skin and can sting your eyes or anywhere else you touch. Many people wear gloves when handling jalapeños.
- Juice and zest the lime.
- Cut the bell pepper into medium sized pieces.
- In a blender, add the broiled tomatillos, garlic, cilantro, onion, jalapeño pepper, salt, and the zest and juice of the lime. Pulse until chunky.
- In a large soup or stew pot, heat two tablespoons olive oil on low heat with the chili powder and cumin for 2-3 minutes to warm up the spices. Keep an eye on them, as we want to warm the spices, but not burn them!
- Turn the heat up to medium high and add the chopped green bell peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes, stirring the peppers every so often to help them brown.
- Add the navy beans (drained from their juices and rinsed under water), tomatillo sauce, water, and frozen corn and stir together in the pan.
- Bring up to a simmer to help all the flavors come together.
- Cook uncovered on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
- We like to serve our chili over cooked brown rice topped with shredded cheddar cheese and a spoonful of sour cream or guacamole. It’s also great the next day on top of a bed of salad greens for a crunchy taco salad, or as the filing of a veggie burrito.
- Culinary note: even as this recipe has a long list of ingredients, it’s really easy to prepare. It just takes time. The first seven ingredients will go into your blender to make an amazing tomatillo sauce. The rest of the chili is a breeze. This recipe suggests serving the chili over pre-cooked brown rice. A great shortcut is to use up extra rice from take-out. Otherwise, you will need to cook 2 cups dry brown rice to yield the 6 cups cooked this recipe is created for. Follow the cooking instructions on the rice packaging.
- Note on Substitutions: If you don’t like green bell pepper, use red or orange or just leave it out, but do throw in another green summer veggie you’d enjoy. We use frozen corn (to save time) , but two ears of fresh summer corn would be even better! If you want to use quinoa instead of brown rice, that’s a great time saving option and would be delicious.
- How to add protein: this chili is so flavorful and filling as is! If you want to add extra protein in addition to the beans, some grass-fed organic ground beef sautéed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little chili powder is a great addition.