Moroccan-Spiced Vegetarian Chili

Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.

Suggested Use:
Anchos are great in salsa, soups, enchilada and any sauce needing mild heat and chile flavor. Chopped, pureed or ground, they can be added directly to your recipes.

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4 large ancho chiles
3 cups water
4 large whole garlic cloves, plus 6 large cloves, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1-1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 can (28 oz.) chopped tomatoes
1 butternut squash, 1-1/4 lb., halved, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 cans (15oz. each) chickpeas
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/3 cup sliced dried apricots
1/3 cup sliced pitted prunes


In a mediumsaucepan, combine the chiles and water and bring to a boil. Remove the chiles from the heat; cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Using a pair of tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles to a hard work surface. Discard the stems and seeds from the chiles, reserving the soaking liquid.

In a food processor or blender, combine the chiles with the whole garlic cloves and 1/2 cup of the reserved soaking liquid and process until smooth. Set the chile mixture aside.

Heat a heavy pot over medium heat. Coat the pot with some nonstick cooking spray, then add the onion, sliced garlic cloves, turmeric, cinnamon, cumin and coriander and saute until the onion and garlic have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, along with their juices, the butternut squash and the chile puree. Cover and simmer these ingredients stirring occasionally, until the squash is just tender, about 25 minutes.

Incorporate the chickpeas and their liquid, the zucchini, dried apricots and prunes. Simmer, uncovered, until both of the squashes are tender, about 15 minutes more. Transfer the chili to warmed serving dishes and serve hot.

Yields 6 servings.

Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series,Fresh & Light,by Lane Crowther (Time-Life Books, 1998).