Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chickpea and Lentil Chili

I wasn’t paying attention to what the weather would be today when I decided to try something different for a vegetarian chili recipe. But the heavy, Autumn rain is a perfect match for a dish like this. I actually had it simmering on the stove by mid morning and the aroma was almost too much to handle!

This recipe is a variation on the vegetarian recipes that often call for pinto, red, and/or black beans. I’ve replaced them with lentils, seen above. I’ve included this picture because I marvel at how pretty they really are! They remind me of the stones that I saw at the edge of the ocean in Northern California. Just thought I’d share that. : )

Back to the chili, I’ve also kept the chickpeas (and I've explained their amazing health benefits here) and added lots of vegetables, including cauliflower, mushrooms, and greens.

The cauliflower, lentils, and mushrooms give this dish a texture that is surprisingly like a meat-based chili and you won’t even miss the meat! I think almost any vegetable you have on hand will work well in this dish. I also feel that good quality spices are really important. I used a smoked, Hungarian paprika here and a nice chili powder. Start off on the low side when adding the spices then add more to taste.

In addition, because I try to use canned foods as little as possible, when not using fresh tomatoes, I’ve switched to tomato products in tetra-pak containers. I’ve seen them at many of the major grocers in this area.

This would make a very hearty meal over brown rice or quinoa and can be garnished with traditional sour cream, chives, and cheese, or even cashews.

Chickpea and Lentil Chili

1 – 2 T grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 bell peppers, seeded and chopped small
2 stalks celery, sliced lengthwise and chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
½ head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t dried oregano
2-4 T chili powder
2 T paprika
1 T cumin
½ t cayenne pepper
1 t black pepper
1 t sea salt
~2 c vegetable broth, simmering
1 12 oz. bottle dark beer, at room temperature (optional)
1 c lentils, soaked overnight and rinsed
3 c chickpeas, soaked overnight and rinsed, divided
2 large tomatoes, chopped small
3 c tomato puree or strained tomatoes
2 c chopped fresh green, such as spinach or kale
cooked brown rice
shredded Monterey jack, cheddar, or other cheese, or

1. Heat the oil on medium in a large pot. Add the onion and saute until they become translucent.

2. Add the peppers and celery and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms and spices and cook briefly.

4. Add the hot vegetable broth, beer, lentils, 2 cups of chickpeas, tomatoes, and puree.

5. In a blender, blend the remaining 1-cup of chickpeas with just enough water or vegetable broth to cover. Add the puree to the pot.

6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until the tomatoes cook down.

7. A few minutes before the end of cooking, add the chopped greens. If adding spinach, add about 5 minutes before serving. If adding kale, allow a few more minutes for it to wilt.

8. Serve over brown rice and garnish as desired.

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