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Chili Diaries: Chapter 4, Sweet Tuna Chili

Posted Aug 24 2008 10:36pm

S ometimes it’s nice to use your creativity in trying to make use of left over ingredients in your fridge. I hate having leftovers so I try to make small portions of one thing, if you hadn’t noticed already. This is, of course, if I’m only cooking for myself (My lovely can eat 2-3 portions!) I usually utilize one ingredient to make a bunch of things with them which is why 90% of the time they’re fresh. A head of cabbage can serve me four different meals, if an eggplant is big enough, I can use it twice, and a butternut squash, usually two pounds, can last me three meals unless I want a large batch of squash fries..

Frozen vegetables, too, are a blessing. I always buy frozen peppers and onions because I use them consistently especially when it comes to making chili. In chili, peppers and onions are necessary allllllll the time and onions (I like onions..) are tossed here and there in numerous dishes. I always have broccoli and zucchini in the house; everything else is just whatever I crave at that time. I did, astonishingly, find a one pound bag of frozen artichoke hearts at Trader Joe’s the other day in addition to a humongous bag of tricolor diced peppers - beautiful! I can’t wait to cook up something’ with those babies. Another thing I found at Trader Joe’s was a roll of Organic Southern Grits, gluten free. Two words in that title immediately caught my eye: grits and gluten free. So, I bought it. I don’t know how and I can’t explain why, but, after breakfast yesterday, I was extremely ill. It didn’t specify processed in a ‘wheat’ facility nor did it state possible contamination or have anything else in its listed ingredients as ‘wheat’ related. My only conclusion is that I had a reaction to the lye but I can’t be certain. I posted this on the celiac forum to see what they may say.

Back to the topic of using leftover ingredients, this was how this chili came to be. After I made it, I figured that it would have been more eye catching if the beans were cannelloni beans or some white bean to make a white chili with the light colored Albacore tuna. Still, I will not object to it’s deliciousness. It was hot yet sweet; quite pleasing to the palette. I snatch the spice mixture from a chili con carne recipe but I don’t think it should be considered a chili con carne. It wasn’t spicy so don’t fear the cayenne but then again I have a large tolerance for spice so use the spices according to your taste; this is why I don’t specify a spice measurement in a lot of my recipes unless I find it absolutely necessary.

Sweet Tuna Chili

½ pinto beans

½ diced tomatoes (Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes!)

¼ cup onions, chopped

¼ cup green bell peppers, chopped

½ 6 oz can of tuna

2 tsp minced garlic or garlic powder

1 ½ cups water (may or may not use all, depending on your consistency preference)

Chili powder

Cayenne pepper


Black pepper


2 tsp sugar

Liquid smoke

1-2 tsp hot sauce

In a sprayed non-stick cooking pan, sauté onions and peppers until mostly transparent with a little salt. Toss in minced garlic and sauté for a minute longer; then add the seasonings, tomatoes and some water.

Let that simmer for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the tuna and beans. On a medium simmer, cook covered for 15 minutes. Finally, add the hot sauce, sugar, liquid smoke, and adjust seasonings if necessary. Let that simmer for five more minutes.

It came out with a more stew-like consistency so serve this chili with a fat chunk of cornbread!

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