Easy slow-cooker chili requires no chopping

“A wheatberry or wheat berry is the entire wheat kernel (except for the hull), composed of the bran, germ, and endosperm. Wheatberries have a tan to reddish brown color and are available as either a hard or soft processed grain. They are often added to salads or baked into bread to add a crunchy texture. If wheat berries are milled, whole-wheat flour is produced.” – wikipedia

In the quest to get to know all of the grains in Bon Appetit’s January 2014 Cooking School Issue, I am ahead of the game! I have been sitting on this chili recipe awaiting the right moment to wave it around and declare – You must try this! So here goes. You! Yes, you! You simply must try this chili!

This laughably simple chili came into being at a time when I was feeding a large group of mostly meat eaters and a handful of vegetarians. I wanted to serve a tummy filling dish that would satisfy the entire group. I also needed something quick and easy because this was going to feed everyone at The Little Helping’s birthday party and we spent most of the pre-party time out of the house.

While brainstorming birthday dinner ideas I remembered a version of chili my mom made using wheat berries. Years later I can still recall the plump grains’ pleasantly meaty chew. I believe the initial wheat berry chili recipe came from a gift shop kit — you know the sort, a cellophane bag of dry ingredients, a packet of seasonings, and a recipe card. After the kit was a success, she made a similar vegetarian chili several more times before the recipe faded away for no reason in particular.

This vegetarian chili is a product of my current life season. I appreciate any recipe I can knock out with one hand while holding the baby in the other. Normally I’d chop onions, perhaps some zucchini, or assorted other produce to bulk up a pot of chili. Unlike my usual method I designed this recipe to be free of all chopping. The exception might be mincing a couple garlic cloves if you don’t have a jar or squeezy tube of prepared garlic on hand (Thank you Gourmet Garden for your squeezable herbs and spices!). Eliminating the extra chunks of vegetable also increases the kid appeal. The chili stands on its own but when served with a buffet of toppings, diners can layer in additional texture and flavor from vegetables, cheese, avocado, hot sauce, or whatever sounds good. Paired with Confetti Pepper Cornbread this makes a very satisfying meal that should appeal to just about any crowd.

If you are joining me in this grain eating adventure, this chili is a fantastic place to begin. Be sure to check back in and let other readers know what you liked or disliked about the chili or wheat berries in general.

Reasons to try wheat berries:

  • Pleasing meaty texture.
  • Easy to cook.
  • A nutritional powerhouse – per 1/4 cup of dry wheat berries there is only .5 grams of fat, zero milligrams of sodium, 6 grams each of fiber and protein, and a decent amount of iron!
  • Mild flavor won’t over power other ingredients making them a go-to grain for almost any hot and cold dishes.
  • Super-duper affordable!! I grabbed some for under $1 per pound in my supermarket’s bulk section.

No Chop Wheat Berry Chili

Prep time: 30 minutes, Cook time 5-8+ hours; Yield approximately 12 (1 cup) servings

Ingredients

  • 4 cups black beans
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups of corn kernels
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 3 tablespoons fire roasted green chilies
  • 2 teaspoons Gourmet Garden Minced Garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry Italian herbs
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Method

Place the wheat berries in a 3 quart pot and cover with 4 cups of water. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. This step tenderizes the wheat berries and prevents them from absorbing too much liquid later.

After 30 minutes the wheat berries should be very chewy. Drain the water and place the wheat berries in the slow cooker crock along with the remaining ingredients.

Cover the crock and cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours.

Notes

Serving suggestions: top with chopped onions, plain greek yogurt, shredded cheese, diced avocado, or crumbled tortilla chips

Make sure to use smoked paprika – not spicy, if you aren’t sure if it is smoked give it a sniff, your nose will tell you.

This freezes very well.

Approximate nutrition information: 197 calories, 1 g fat, 41 g carbohydrates, 11 g fiber, 11 g protein, PP = 5

More in Life

‘Found’: Author and climber a 20-year veteran of mountain rescue

In her second book, Bree Loewen shares her experiences of volunteering with Seattle Mountain Rescue.

Secret garden: Privacy trees that won’t outgrow a small space

These plants offer some height to block out unwanted sights without taking over your yard.

Stock your winter bookshelf with these animal and nature reads

Four new books cover outdoors topics from butterflies to wolves.

The Shed Players recently released their new album “Our Shingle Most Favorites.”
Listen here: Josh Clauson, The Shed Players release new CDs

This feature is all about Snohomish County’s homegrown talent: locals who make music and record it.

Newfangled cooker isn’t for those with tried and true methods

Columnist Jennifer Bardsley recently succumbed to peer pressure and purchased an Instant Pot.

Now is the time to assess your student’s back-to-school plan

Take a good look at how your kids are managing their new routine, class, teacher(s) and homework.

Author’s talk of birds and clouds kicks off Marysville series

1. Birds and clouds Marysville’s Outdoor Adventure Speakers Series is kicking into… Continue reading

How to shop in the street markets of France

It’s the best way to connect with the nation’s farmers and artisans.

Oprah Winfrey joins ‘60 Minutes’ for 50th anniversary year

The media giant debuts on tonight’s show, reporting on a story about America’s political divisions.

Most Read