This easy chilli con carne with hidden vegetables is a delicious family meal. It's easy to adapt for different tastes and a great way of getting picky eaters to eat more of their 5-a-day.
The only hidden vegetable dish my daughter will eat!
This chilli con carne recipe is the very first savoury hidden vegetable dish I have managed to get Little Miss Spice to eat. And she's 6 years old! The problem is that she doesn't like sauces and so hiding vegetables in a sauce just doesn't work.
She loves chicken curry but picks out the pieces of chicken to eat so any vegetables get left behind. She will eat mince but until now I've just chopped the vegetables and she's always manged to pick them out.
The trick is to blend the vegetables first
This time, I blended all the vegetables first. I don't know why I hadn't done that before. So simple but it makes them impossible to pick out. I also made the chilli quite thick so she couldn't pick out the pieces of meat from the sauce. In fact I don't think she even realised it was full of vegetables!
So did everyone eat this chilli con carne with hidden vegetables?
Yay! So, there I was doing a happy dance around the room until Mr Searching for Spice realised what we were having for dinner! Unfortunately, he does not like mince. He won't eat chilli con carne, spaghetti bolognese or cottage pie. The only recipes he likes that I make with mince are burgers, meatballs or kebabs.
After asking if there was anything else he could have for dinner, he did give in and eat it. He even had lots of extra chilli and a squeeze of lime. Yes, I'm afraid Little Miss Spice is not the only picky eater I have to deal with!
A great recipe for batch cooking
So what do I do now? Luckily, this chilli con carne with hidden vegetables is a perfect recipe to cook once eat twice. It's ideal for batch cooking so I will be preparing a big batch, then freezing most of it in child-sized individual portions.
On weeknights we can never eat as a family so it'll be a perfect hassle-free meal for the children. It'll keep in the freezer for at least 4-6 months. Just defrost overnight in the fridge before heating in the oven or microwave.
How can you adapt this veggie chilli recipe?
This chilli con carne is a great recipe for hiding vegetables in. I hid onions, carrots, celery and red pepper. But, if you don't have exactly the same vegetables then don't worry about substituting some of them. Courgette would work well in here too. You could simply miss out one of the vegetables. It would still be delicious.
You'll see that this chilli is not very hot and spicy. I haven't added lots of chilli peppers to the chilli as I wanted my kids to eat it. To get more heat, I simply add sliced fresh red chillies to my portion and stir them in. You could also use dried chilli flakes or a hot sauce.
To get a richer tomato flavour, add some tomato puree in step 3 when you add the spices.
And finally, if you don't have black beans then use kidney beans or even cannellini beans.
What to serve with this chilli con carne?
There are so many things you could serve on the side or top this chilli with. I like to serve this chilli with rice but if you don't have any then just try it with another grain. Couscous and bulgur wheat are great served with it.
It's also delicious served in either soft or crispy tacos. Don't forget baked potatoes too. I love to top a jacket potato with a load of this.
And what about the chilli toppings?
It really depends on what you like. I usually put lots of options out on the table so everyone can pick and choose what they have. Ideas include cheese, sour cream, tomato salsa, tortilla chips, herbs such as coriander (cilantro), lime, jalapenos, sliced chilli peppers, guacamole or avocado slices.
Easy Chilli Con Carne with Hidden Vegetables
- 1 onion roughly chopped
- 1 carrot roughly chopped
- 2 sticks of celery roughly chopped
- ½ red pepper roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp light olive oil or an alternative cooking oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 500 g minced beef
- 400 g chopped tinned tomatoes
- pinch black pepper
- pinch salt (optional)
- 230 g cooked black beans (drained weight)
Optional to serve
- sour cream
- chopped coriander
- tortilla chips
- chopped fresh chilli pepper
- Put the onion, celery, carrot, red pepper and garlic in a food processor and blitz thoroughly.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and then fry the vegetables, stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the spices.
- Add the mince and cook until it is browned on the outside. Keep breaking it up with a wooden spoon and stirring.
- Add the tinned tomatoes. Half fill the tin with water and add it to the mince too. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer for an hour.
- Five minutes before the end, stir in the black beans. Season with salt and black pepper
- Serve with rice. Add whatever optional toppings you like.
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More Easy One pot Family Recipes
I also have an amazing recipe for a vegan lentil chilli with black beans. But if you're looking for some meaty recipes then how about one of these dishes?
Or this bacon and chicken chilli?
And if you are looking for desserts with hidden vegetables then my cauliflower chocolate mousse is definitely worth trying!
I've also got a great recipe collection for easy spicy midweek meals with lots of tasty recipe ideas. Do check it out!
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Do let me know if you make this chilli con carne. I love to get feedback from readers.
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