Island Dish: Winter Garden Chili

by Solara Goldwynn, Hatchet & Seed

Wintertime on Southern Vancouver Island is the time of year when local food is valued the most. If you’ve lived here for a while, you know that you don’t actually need to put your garden to bed for the winter, but can grow food year-round in our climate. With a little protection in case of heavy frost or snow and a diversity of crops, a winter garden can provide nutrition and joy during the grayest of days. Although there isn’t an abundance of local produce in the grocery store during winter, several local farms supply restaurants, markets and grocers. With consumer demand increasing, and as more people get into farming, local food is becoming more accessible.

Another way to ensure a supply of winter food is to preserve some of the summer bounty. In our pantry right now we’ve got a variety of jam, herbal tea, dehydrated fruit, dried beans, fermented foods, and a freezer full of fruit and local meat, some of which originate from our garden, some from the Farmer’s Market or from friends. Although we don’t have enough to survive off, there is enough to add to many meals.

This month’s recipe is a celebration of a year-round garden and its main ingredient is a nutrient-rich food that grows really well in most gardens …beans! Did you know that 2016 was the year of the pulse? A pulse is the dried seed of beans, peas, lentils and chickpeas. Pulses are high in protein and fiber, making them healthy for you, and they are nitrogen fixers, making them healthy for the soil. I used a mixture of dried beans that we saved from our garden and some local lentils. I store all of the drying beans mixed together in jars which make it easy to add to soup, stews or to this chili. If you don’t have saved dried beans not to worry, it’s very easy to find them in the bulk sections of most grocery stores. Just be aware that dried beans found in the store can be several years old, and need quite a long soaking time before cooking.

Winter Garden Chili

2 cups dried beans, soaked 12 hours

3 cups chopped leafy greens (kale, mustard & beet greens, arugula, etc)

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups tomato sauce (I used Sun Trio Farm tomato sauce)

2 cups stock (vegetable or meat)

1 tbsp garden herbs (sage, oregano, thyme)

Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse soaked beans and put in a large pot, cover with water and cook on the stove until tender. Pour off remaining water and add the rest of the ingredients to the beans and stir well. Simmer up to one hour. Serve hot with fresh chèvre, pickled vegetables, and a thick slice of sourdough bread.

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