I lived in New York for a time during college and it was impossible to find good cheese dip. My friend, Loren, who also happened to be from Georgia, better known as ‘The Land of Good Mexican Food,’ joined me on my quest to find authentic cheese dip somewhere on the island of Manhattan. We tried dozens of places, all with amazing reviews on Yelp. Yet each time we order Queso, anxiously awaiting what we hoped would be authentic cheese dip, we would end up being served a warm glob of neon orange nacho cheese. Man, it got so depressing having to pay for that!
It’s hard to have Mexican without cheese. It’s pretty essential, like icing is to cake. So in my house, where I try my best to keep a close watch on my cheese intake, Mexican is a special treat. It really is a shame though, since the flavors and spices are so tantalizing.
A while back I came across this recipe for Verde Chili and thought it might be the perfect way to get the Mexican flavor without the cheese. Happily, I can report I was so right! This dish is so full of flavor that you won’t miss the cheese at all. Plus, the combination of the beans over a helping of rice will keep you full for hours. (I used white rice since I had been given some and needed to use it up, but I’d recommend brown since it’s a whole grain, not processed, and won’t spike your blood sugar levels).
The chili gets its name not only because it is filled with lots of delicious and nutritious green vegetables, but because it contains a jar of Salsa Verde for flavor. The salsa helps to give the chili its kick with the addition of a jalapeño. Sliced avocado on top adds a nice creamy texture, as well as some good fat. This is one of those recipes that you can make ahead. Just store the rice and chili separately until you’re ready to eat and then top each serving with a bit of the avocado.
Trust me, this is one Mexican meal where you won’t have to go searching for the cheese.
- 1 ½ teaspoons of Table Salt
- 1 ½ Cups of Cannellini Beans
- 2 Cups of Long Grain Brown Rice
- 2 Tablespoons of Canola Oil
- 1 Bunch of Green Onions, chopped
- 6 Cloves of Garlic, minced
- 1 Jalapeno, chopped
- 2 Green Bell Peppers, chopped
- 3 Stalks of Celery, chopped
- 3 Cups of Vegetable Broth
- 12 ounce jar of Salsa Verde
- 3 Cups of Spinach
- ¼ Cup of Cilantro, chopped
- 4 Avocados
- 9 Cups Water
- In a large, heatproof bowl, combine 3 cups of boiling water plus the table salt, stirring until dissolved, creating brine. Add in the cannellini beans and allow them to soak overnight.
- When ready to prepare the Chili, drain the beans that have been soaked overnight. In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and add in the soaked beans. Boil the beans for 30 minutes, or until they are soft but still solid. Drain the beans, and set them aside.
- Using the same large pot, cook the rice according to the package’s instructions and set aside when finished.
- As the rice cooks, begin the Chili. In another large pot or dutch-oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos, letting them cook for 2 minutes or until they soften. Toss in the bell pepper and celery, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Next, add in the beans, broth, and Salsa Verde, bringing everything to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the Chili to simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. Before removing the Chili from the stove, add in the spinach and allow it to wilt.
- Mix in the cilantro immediately before serving. Spoon the Chili over the rice and top with ½ an avocado per serving. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.