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One of my favourite kitchen items is my cast-iron dutch oven. My mother bought it for me when I got married and I’ve used it just about every week since. In case you haven’t noticed, I prefer cooking 1-pot meals. Usually, I don’t like the fuss of making multiple sides in addition to a protein. Instead, I like throwing it all in one place and letting the flavours develop together.

Chili is one of those really simple 1-pot meals that require little-to-no effort. I’ve made the regular beef and bean chili, Ina Garten’s chicken chili, vegetarian bean chili, and a couple of nights ago, I tried lentil chili. Lentils are an excellent source of fiber and protein with a rich and nutty taste that lends itself well to chili. My husband isn’t a huge fan of beans because of their consistency so lentils were a great vegetarian alternative (though neither of us are actually vegetarian).

Lentil Chili (serves 4)
Adapted from food.com

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 (19 oz.) can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 (16 oz.) can of plum tomatoes
2 c. of broth (vegetable or chicken)
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until they’re almost translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or until fragrant. Then add carrots and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the lentils and then the seasoning and give everything a good stir so that it’s all coated. Cook for 2-3 minutes to activate the seasonings; you’ll know this when it becomes aromatic. Then using your hands or the back of your wooden spoon, squish the canned tomatoes and add them (along with their juices). Add the broth, making sure to scrape up all the good bits at the bottom of the pot. Bring it to a boil and then turn the heat down to low and let it simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes. Then add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve with corn bread.

Note:
I used green canned lentils but I think any kind of lentil will do. If you have dry lentils, boil over low heat in salted water for about 25-30 minutes and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. For even more fiber and protein, you can add a can of kidney or black beans but it’s not really necessary in terms of flavour.

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