Thursday, December 20, 2012

0 Recipe #331: Lentil & Black Bean Chili

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People keep asking me for a recipe for vegetarian chili, so finally, here it is. :) Admittedly, there are a lot of backlogged requests in the queue at present; however, slowly but surely, I'm getting around to them, one by one. Time is of the essence, so I have to be very strategic about the way in which I check them off the list. For example, a friend of mine recently requested that I bring a vegetarian dish to her holiday party, so I decided to create a special recipe for the occasion, hence the below creation. :)

Not only is chili super easy to make, but it's great for fall and winter holiday parties (especially when served with baked tortilla chips!) and in cold weather, really hits the spot. Plus, you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy vegetarian chili, so that means that this dish can be enjoyed by a wide array of people. An empty chili bowl at a party is always a good sign. :)

If you click on the chili tag on the left sidebar of this blog, you'll see that this blog already has several turkey and beef based chili recipes, but no vegetarian ones, that is, until now. This is highly ironic, considering that, when I first started making chili, I only cooked vegetarian chili. (If you're curious to know why that is, you can read that story here.)

The great thing about chili is that it tastes even better the next day, and the day after that, etc. (Just don't extend that day-after-day analogy to a whole month of refrigeration, or you might find it no longer holds true. Lol.) It also freezes well, so if you're not in the mood to cook, all you have to do is wave your magic wand, and "Poof!" an instant meal will "magically appear" on the table. ;)

Lentil & Black Bean Chili

1 c. red lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones (and other debris)
2 c. boiling hot water (for soaking the lentils)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. yellow onion, peeled and diced (1 small onion)
2 Tbsp. garlic, peeled and finely minced (about 4 large cloves)
1 large bay leaf
1 c. red bell pepper, diced (about 1 medium-sized red bell pepper)
2 c. fresh vine-ripened tomatoes, diced (about 3 large tomatoes)
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 c. water (or organic, low-sodium vegetable broth) (for cooking the chili)
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
6 oz. can tomato paste
2 Tbsp. Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. ground coriander
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. (mild) Mexican-style chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/2  tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper, or to taste (optional)
1/4 c. masa harina de maiz (corn flour)
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for garnish

Directions: An hour in advance, soak lentils in 2 c. boiling hot water for 1 hour (or until softened). (You can do this while you're prepping the vegetables.) Then, rinse and drain lentils in a colander and set aside. In a large pot, heat olive oil on high until glistening. Then reduce heat to low, add onion, garlic, bay leaf, and red pepper, and saute for about 5 minutes or until tender. Next add fresh diced tomatoes, followed by the canned, crushed ones, and cook for about a minute. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients, minus the  masa harina de maiz (corn flour) and fresh cilantro, cover with lid, and simmer for 10 minutes. Then, uncover lid, stir, and check liquid levels to make sure chili isn't sticking to the bottom or burning. If necessary, add more water (or broth). Cover again, and cook for another 5 minutes. Uncover again and stir in masa harina de maiz (corn flour). Cook, uncovered for 5 more minutes (or until lentils are soft), then let chili cool for about 5-10 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Stir in cilantro until evenly distributed. If desired, garnish with additional fresh cilantro and serve.

Yield: 7 c.

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