Vegetarian Mole Chili

Vegetarian Mole Chili

This bold and zesty vegetarian main course is bursting with meaty flavors. Espresso adds a slightly bitter taste on the back of the palette that balances nicely with the vegetables as well as the chocolate in the mole and smoky chipotle in adobo. The intensely flavored granules of the powdered espresso also help prevent the dish from being soupy and keeps the vegetables from getting mushy. 

When buying prepared mole paste, it’s best to choose authentic versions from Oaxaca or Pueblo. Some fine companies import mole made without lard, the traditional fat used to cook the seeds, nuts, etc. Change the ingredients to suit your taste. For toppings, try pumpkin seeds, pickled jalapeños, and cheddar cheese, as well as those used below. 

See other related recipes in Cooking with Coffee.

Yield: 8 cups to serve 6 to 8
Prep Time: About 80 minutes
Shelf Life: About 1 week under refrigeration

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
7 ounces thinly sliced onions
5 ounces chopped carrots
3 ounces chopped celery
.5 ounce minced garlic
1½ cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons dark mole paste*
1½ cups crushed canned tomatoes
1½ tablespoons espresso powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ to tablespoon mashed chipotle chili in adobo (optional)
7 ounces diced zucchini
6 ounces diced butternut squash
4 ounces diced red bell pepper
6 ounces frozen or canned corn kernels
1 (15-ounce) can white hominy, rinsed and drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓  cup finely chopped cilantro
¼  cup thinly sliced scallions, including green parts, to garnish
½ cup crumbled Cotija or queso fresco, to garnish
1 thinly sliced avocado, to garnish (optional)
½ cup sliced radishes, to garnish (optional)

Additional toppings: sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt and toasted pumpkin seeds

Method

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté until lightly colored and just soft, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  2. Add the stock, mole and tomatoes and bring to a boil, stirring up all browned cooking bits. Stir in the espresso powder, cumin and chipotle chili (if using), and cook for about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the zucchini, butternut squash, and bell pepper; bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer until the vegetables are just tender, about 35 minutes. Stir in the corn and hominy and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  4. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle on cilantro and scallions, and top with a sprinkle of Cotija cheese. Garnish with optional toppings, as desired.