Monday, December 31, 2012

Guest Post: Vegan Lentil Chili

Do you remember my friend, Ben, who made the delicious veggie quesadilla a few weeks ago? He's back with a cozy vegan chili recipe for us!
It is the holidays, which means it is chilly outside and what better way to combat the cold than with some delicious, hearty chili. Now that I got the obligatory “chilly/chili” joke out of the way I can say that this recipe really was a true delight. I wanted something new and was lucky to stumble across this recipe online. I should note that their recipe calls for quinoa and I am using French lentils because I thought I had some at home and did not feel like returning to the grocery store. Lentils proved to be an excellent substitution. I will be trying it with quinoa in the near future to compare. The recipe you read below is pretty much straight from their website. I just made adjustments to mirror my cooking style.

This does produce a lot of chili, but the great part is that it freezes well. So if you are having a get-together, this will certainly satisfy the masses and be a crowd pleaser. I was able to serve 2 others and still have a plethora leftover, which I divided up into small plastic bowls and put into the freezer. Again, I was blown away. Growing up with one of the best chilis (my dad’s) out there, it was hard to believe that another recipe could be as delectable. 

Yield: Serves 10-12

Prep Time: 10 minutes (unless you do a fine chop, then it will be 20)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55-65 minutes

1/2 cup French Lentils, rinsed (the original recipe called for quinoa)
One (1) cup of water
One (1) tablespoon of olive oil
One (1) small onion, chopped
Three (3) cloves garlic, minced
One (1) jalapeno pepper, diced (I did not de-seed)
One (1) large carrot, peeled and chopped
Two (2) celery stalks, chopped
One (1) green bell pepper, chopped
One (1) red bell pepper, chopped
One (1) zucchini, chopped
30 oz. of canned black beans, drained and rinsed (Look for vegetarian, I almost bought the non-vegetarian)
15 oz. of canned red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
45 oz. of canned diced tomatoes
15 oz. of canned tomato sauce
(I just bought the Hunt’s plain sauce)
Three (3) tablespoons of chili powder
One (1) tablespoon of ground cumin
One (1) mini pile of shredded cheddar for topping (of course, those who want to keep their vegan powers don't add this)
One (1) bundle of green onions
Salt and black pepper,
to taste

Start by rinsing and chopping all of your veggies. I just threw everything into a bowl as I cut. You can see that I did a fine chop. You can certainly go bigger. I just wanted something a little smaller than the beans and I thought the consistency would be better. Be sure to not mix in the onion, as you will need to cook that a few minutes before everything else.
In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water. Cook over medium heat until water is absorbed. It took about 15-20 minutes.  Set it aside for later.
This next step you can do in conjunction with the precious step just make sure you are keeping a watchful eye on both. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, which is only about 5 minutes.
As soon as the onion is tender throw in the bowl of vegetables (garlic, jalapeƱo, carrot, celery, peppers, and zucchini). The beans will be added after you cook the vegetables.
After about 10-13 minutes over high heat, the vegetables should be tender and ready for the rest of the ingredients. Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in the cooked lentils as well. 
Now its time to add the seasoning. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. (The original recipe called for nothing else, but I added 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper and 1 tsp. of garlic powder.) 
Simmer chili on med-low for about 30 minutes and stir occasionally. 
Garnish the chili with green onions and cheese. The original recipe also suggested avocado slices, sour cream/Greek yogurt, chips, and crackers as other toppings. I am a chili and cracker man.

Ben is a photographer and journalist in San Diego, CA. He can often be found hiking in the desert, reading a book, or messing around in the kitchen. Despite a great deal of frustration, he frequently attempts crossword puzzles.  Occasionally, he will update his website