Cincinnati “Chili Mac”
This classic pasta and chili dish can be made with varying ingredients and seasonings, but the one standard factor is that it’s always served over spaghetti. Often, too, a touch of sweet spices (such as cinnamon or allspice) are added. The result: a hybrid recipe that’s uniquely American. Adapted from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small fresh hot chili pepper, seeded and minced,
or one 4-ounce can mild diced green chilis
- 14- to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 14- to 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- Two 15- to 16-ounce cans red or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 to 2 teaspoons good-quality chili powder, to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, optional
- 8 to 10 ounces spaghetti
Garnishes (all optional):
- Diced ripe tomatoes
- Chopped onion or scallions
- Grated cheddar-style nondairy cheese
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or steep-sided stir-fry pan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent, then add the green and red bell peppers and continue to sauté until the onion is golden.
Stir in the remaining ingredients except the spaghetti and garnishes and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain.
For each serving, place a small amount of spaghetti in a wide shallow serving bowl and top with some of the chili. If desired, top with any or all of the suggested garnishes.