Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vegetarian Hominy Bean Chili Bento

Guess what? We made it through a whole meatless week! Today's vegetarian chili is the 4th meatless bento in a row, and it's a thermal one. I've never tried this recipe before, and it has a different flavor than our usual meaty chili, with a ton of vegetables and beans such as black and kidney beans, lentils, carrots, sweet pepper, onion, zucchini, kale, celery, and hominy. It calls for a lot of chili powder, but also 1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate, which counters the spiciness enough that the kids could handle it. They loved it. I topped it with grated parmesan and fresh cilantro, and it was delicious. Even though it still hasn't been all that cold, it was nice to make a warm bento. It is winter, after all. The side box contains a selection of fruit: oranges, strawberry, blackberry, grapes, and a carrot. That's it for the week! We'll see if anyone asks for meat next week. ^_^

Black Bean Hominy Chili
(adapted from Pam Anderson's recipe)
1 quart good quality vegetable broth
1 can (14.5 ounces) petite-diced tomatoes
1 generous Tb. vegetable oil
1 medium-large onion, cut into medium dice
1 bell pepper, cut into medium dice
1 carrot, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/2 bunch kale, stem removed and leaves torn into small pieces
3 Tbs. chili powder
1 tsp. each ground cumin and oregano
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) drained black beans
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) drained hominy (I substituted kidney beans; you can use any beans)
1 cup lentils
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate
1/4 of chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers; sauté until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin and oregano: sauté until fragrant, a minute or so. Add beans and hominy along with broth and tomatoes. Add the rest of the vegetables and lentils. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender and flavors have blended, about 40 minutes. Stir in garlic, chocolate and cilantro; simmer a couple of minutes to blend flavors. Turn off heat and let stand a few minutes if there's time. Adjust seasonings and serve.
Added to Allergy-Friendly Lunchbox.


  1. Ooh that recipe looks lovely, as does the bento as usual :)) ! Where did you get it from?

  2. whoa...meatless week !
    sounds yum, Sheri...

  3. cute bento..awesome pictures


  4. d.a.f.fodil, it's a recipe from Pam Anderson (not THAT Pam Anderson) - she's a meatless cookbook author. I'll edit in the recipe so you can see it. Thanks!

    Thanks Yenny. Can't believe we did it :)

    Thanks Aarthi!

  5. Amazing! You are doing meatless week! I highly doubt if I can completely avoid meat for even a week as my husbands kids highly depend on eating all kinds of meat. I think they eat vegetable like 1/3 of meal and 2/3 are meat dish. Not so healthy I think as I try myself to eat minimum 1/2.

    I need to look for this bento box. I think I saw similar one in Target. It looks a lot easier to eat for Chili or donburi type of dish. I need to "slowly" prepare bento for next year... argh....

  6. I just found your blog and I must say your bentos are awesomely cute! Especially the Totoro ones (which I'm planning to make for my 45 y.o. kid... err...husband). Your kids must be so grateful to have such a creative mom! Good job!

  7. Are you trying to be vegetarians? I tried it and I loved it until I went to MX(San Carlos, Sonora on the ocean) and I got really sick. That was the end of the vegetarian life style. Medically I'm not allowed to anymore, but I just don't eat as much meat, :) and absolutely no veal.

    Kudos to you, because I've babysat and I have a brother and all they would ever want is chicken nuggets (the dino ones) or pepperoni pizza. :/ I would sometimes get requests for grilled ham and cheese...

  8. No MSG in this chili recipe right? I'm sure I could alter it, but just asking. :) My dad's allergic to MSG, Turkey, Peaches, and Shellfish. He has seizures. So we check everything when we go to the store. We try not to use a lot of prepackaged shelf food. I've never tried making chili before, but this recipe looks like a good one to try. If I could make this for him he would be VERY happy. :)

  9. Nami, my husband doesn't mind cutting back on meat, and the kids didn't seem to mind - as long as it was tasty. But I can see how it would be hard to introduce meatless meals to a family that is used to lots of meat! I think as long as they consume veggies as well, it's healthy and balanced to eat meat. We certainly will continue to enjoy our favorite chicken wings and ma po tofu (among others), but I hope to keep up my occasional vegetarian repertoire.
    In fact I purchased this thermal jar at Target; they have a pretty big selection to choose from. Thanks a lot for commenting!

  10. Anon, thanks very much for your kind words. I'm happy you found the site and think it's great to make cute Totoro bento for kids of ALL ages! In fact, I wish someone would make one for me :D Have a great day!

  11. Cat, we aren't becoming vegetarians; it might be a bit drastic for this family that loves certain meat dishes. However, I'd like to learn to make vegetables and beans more of the main part of the meal on occasion. It takes some planning to make sure it will be substantial enough to satisfy everyone. This recipe is great. I usually add ground meat of some kind to chili, but you don't really miss it here. There is no MSG. I'll add the recipe to the post soon so you can try it yourself. I hope you and your family will love it too!

  12. I am actually very carnivorous ;), but I wouldn't mind having this bento because it looks so delicious! I love the bento box too, I don't have any thermal bento boxes yet, I should try to get one, I can imagine how lovely it would be to eat something warm like this, especially in winter...!

  13. We're omnivorous too CG! But this won't taste typically vegetarian; it's quite filling. Perfect for thermal bento. Thank you :D

  14. Mm, we could so eat this today. It's -17ºc here, feels more like -30 actually. lol. This looks so hearty even without the meat. I actually prefer it that way most times. I'd love to add barley rice with this too. So yummy!

  15. Pretty bento and the chili looks delish! :)

  16. Chantale, -17?! I can't even fathom that temperature. Barley is awesome! Live winter for letting I enjoy hearty meals, at least. Heh. Thanks!

    Thanks Susan!