Collard and Pinto Bean Chili

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Looks Indian, tastes Tex-Mex: This winter stew gets its flavor from tomatoes, garlic, cumin and chiles, but the hearty texture comes from chopped collards. I prefer to use organic, salt-free canned beans and tomatoes, which I season to my own taste.

Ingredients
1 bunch collard greens
1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large poblano or green bell pepper, chopped
1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 to 2 teaspoons ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper plus more to taste
2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnishes: Grated cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions
1. Strip the leaves from the central stems of the collards; discard the stems. Wash and drain the leaves. Working in batches, use a food processor to finely chop, but not puree, the leaves (or you can hand chop). Set aside.

2. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the peppers are soft. Stir in the chipotle pepper, oregano, cumin, paprika and cayenne. Stir in the chopped collards; cook 1-2 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes. Stir to combine, then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne; cover and cook 5 more minutes to blend flavors.

3. To serve, spoon into individual bowls and garnish, if desired, with a sprinkling of grated cheese and a few fresh cilantro leaves.

Makes 8 servings. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Total time: 45 minutes

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