When I find myself in the Southwest, one of my favorite things to do is visit the tiny old towns up in the hills. Last weekend, it was Tortilla Flat, population 6, a century-old former stagecoach stop in the Superstition Wilderness on a highway called the Apache Trail. I mean, could it get any more Unforgiven?
Today, Tortilla Flat is, not surprisingly, a stop for sweatshirt-wearing tourists and hardcore bikers, who fill the patio of its one restaurant on weekend afternoons, drinking beer and eating barbecue and the town’s specialty—chili. We ordered some, and it was pretty darn good: smoky, tomato-ey, very hot. I don’t expect you to go all the way to Tortilla Flat to taste it, but you don’t have to. You can order their spice mix online here.
Meanwhile, we’ve been working on April’s “green” issue around here, which made me think of my favorite healthy chili recipe: East Bay author Mollie Katzen’s vegetarian chili, which appears in her Moosewood Cookbook. Moosewood was the first cookbook I ever bought, and even an East Coast meatball-lover like me can appreciate the recipes because, well, they’re delicious. This chili in particular shines because of the generous amounts of onion, green pepper and cumin Katzen prescribes. Seriously, you won’t miss the meat. And lucky you, you don’t even have to buy the book—coincidentally, she has posted her chili recipe on her website molliekatzen.com this month. Click on “Cheating at Chili.” The posted recipe uses canned beans for convenience, but you can also use two cups of dried if you want to soak them yourself.