Red, Gold, Black and Green Chili

Posted · 12 Comments
Red, Gold, Black and Green Chili
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
This chili has won awards at chili cook-offs near and far. It's pretty to look at, and the bulghur combined with the beans provides complete proteins, and a meaty texture. However, the bulghur isn't essential to the recipe and can be omitted.
  • ½ cup bulghur
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 3 cups undrained canned tomatoes (2 28-ounce cans)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 generous teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 generous teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, or ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen cut corn
  • 1½ cups drained cooked black beans (14-ounce can)
  • 1½ cups drained cooked red kidney beans (14-ounce can)
  • salt to taste
  • grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (optional)
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  1. Place the bulghur, hot water, and about a cup of the juice from the canned tomatoes in a small saucepan.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently.
  3. While the bulghur cooks, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  4. Sauté the onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, and Tabasco or cayenne.
  5. When the onions are soft, stir in the bell peppers and sauté for 3 minutes more.
  6. Chop the tomatoes right in the can and add them to the pan.
  7. Stir in the corn and beans, and heat thoroughly on low heat.
  8. Taste the bulghur; when it is cooked but still chewy, add it to the pan with its liquid.
  9. Cover and simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to meld.
  10. Add salt to taste.
  11. Serve plain or topped with grated cheese and fresh cilantro, and possibly with warmed tortillas, or tortilla chips and crudités.


Reprinted and adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, Copyright ©1994 by Moosewood, Inc.,

12 Responses to "Red, Gold, Black and Green Chili"
  1. Erica says:

    3 cups of tomatoes should be one 28-oz can, right? Or did you mean 6 cups? Thanks 🙂

    • laura says:

      That sounds right to me. But juicy too.
      If the fresh tomatoes aren’t ripe, good-quality canned tomatoes might be better.

    • laura says:

      That is, 3 full cups of fresh, diced, juicy tomatoes is about right. Remember, canned tomatoes are cooked, so there are actually more tomatoes in a can of tomatoes than 3 cups of raw chopped tomatoes. When they’re cooked and canned, they cook down. The chili will benefit from the juice, not just the solid flesh of the tomatoes.

  2. jill says:

    I am gluten free, could I substitute the bulgar with quinoa?

    • laura says:

      Yes, you can certainly substitute quinoa, but at the restaurant we often make this chili without any grain at all. There is more than enough substance from the beans and veggies. You can also serve the chili with brown rice if you’re concerned about getting more complete protein.

      • Susie says:

        It’s delicious with quinoa. The cookbook says one 28 oz can of tomatoes.

        Don’t make the mistake of trying any fancy hot sauce… good way to ruin an otherwise most flavorful chili!

        I’ve been making it several times a winter for about 20 years… I collect vegetarian chili recipes, and this is my favorite.

        • laura says:

          Hi Susie,
          Glad you like this Chili. I’m proud to say I developed this recipe and it’s actually won some Chili cook-off awards. Yes, it’s one 28-ounce can of tomatoes, not two. Thanks for catching the typo. I corrected the recipe. Quinoa is a great way to add texture and protein without gluten!
          Laura B.

  3. Fresh chili peppers says:

    Very informative stuff you have shared here. I am glad to visit this awesome blog. Thanks for everything.

  4. kathleen says:

    We use this blog regularly for recipes. We especially love vegan, no oil food (Esselstyn). Thank you!

  5. Katie says:

    I made this chili and came in second place for my works annual chili cook off!!! That’s a pretty big deal as I don’t think a veggie chili has ever won anything! It’s very yummy and surprisingly simple. Love it! Thank you.

    • laura says:

      Hey Katie,
      That’s my recipe! It’s actually won 2-3 other best vegetarian chili awards, here and elsewhere. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      Laura Branca

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