Vegan Lentil Chili

It’s 2011 and yes, after bite-sized rugelach cookies and buttery scones, we need to balance it out with healthy and satisfying meals. On a side-note, my mother-in-law is addicted to the scones. She has already e-mailed me twice about them! Also, while our neighbor and I were shoveling snow in our driveways last Saturday, he said the scones get two thumbs up and 10 stars from him. He and his wife are so cute. I spotted this recipe over at Whole Foods and thought it might warm these cold days. Instead of meat and beans, you use lentils, but diced tomatoes and chili powder are still added for that distinct chili flavor. It’s so easy to pull together and with a green salad and homemade garlic bread on the side, you won’t feel like you are sacrificing a thing.

Friday evening the husband and I are meeting up with my brother-in-law, his girlfriend and my brother and his wife for Ann Arbor’s Restaurant Week. I would imagine these are going on in other big cities as well, but this is the first time I am partaking. Basically each participating restaurant creates a prix fixe menu to get people to try them out for lunch or dinner. We are trying Ethiopian food for the first time and I am beyond excited for the experience. I will let you know how it goes!

Recipe: Vegan Lentil Chili

Recipe adapted from Whole Foods

8 C. water

2 T. extra virgin olive oil

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. ancho chili powder (start at 1 T. if you do not like things spicy)

16 oz. or 2 1/4 C. French green lentils

1 (15 oz.) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes

1/4 C. cilantro, chopped (optional)

sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Put lentils in a large bowl covered with water and soak overnight. Drain before using. This will help the lentils to cook faster.

2. Heat 2 T. of oil in a large pot and add onion, pepper and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Saute until onions are translucent and pepper is tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add in chili powder and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Add lentils, tomatoes and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Taste for seasoning. If you used water, you will have to add a bit of salt since there is very little. It will taste bland at first, but add the sea salt by teaspoon until you find the right balance. If you are using stock, you might not have to add much.

4. Take chili off heat and stir in chopped cilantro (if using) and serve.

8 Notes Leave a Note

  1. How fun! I love Ethiopian food – there’s a great little joint right by my house. Scooping up meat and veggies with that holey bread is really fun 🙂

    • Kasey – I’m really excited about the Ethiopian food. I’ve already begun to romanticize the sharing of the bread with family and hands-on dining experience!

      Sues – I can’t wait to hear about the sweet potato chili, yum. I’m glad to see so many fans of Ethiopian food!

      Jenna – Thanks for stopping by 🙂 I would love to hear about the Ethiopian places near you. Chicago isn’t too far from us (we’re Midwest buddies!) and I definitely want to plan a trip soon.

  2. I love experimenting with different chilis… making a sweet potato one tomorrow 🙂 I love lentils and this looks awesome!

    Hope you enjoy the Ethipopian food… I love it!

  3. Your chili looks fabulously comforting!
    And Ethiopian food is definitely an experience (eating with your hands, etc.). We have at least 2 Ethiopian restaurants right up the street from our apartment, as well as a little Ethiopian grocery store. We tried the first restaurant, but we really need to try the second and see how they compare.

    • Biz – No kidney beans, but now that you mention it, it does look like them. I think they are the tomatoes that were not graced with the natural light coming from the window 🙂 It’s always iffy when I try to pass some vegetarian meals past my meat-loving husband, but he approved of this, thank goodness! The lentils with the chili powder seemed to give a hearty, almost meaty flavor. Mmmm….I really like bulgar wheat and need to start using it more.

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