As I type, it is a beyond lovely clear skied 77-degree day. I’m sitting in the sun with short sleeves on and shoes off enjoying this gorgeousness as I work.  

It is not a chili kind of day, but that is on my mind. The bowl of warm, spicy, smoky, hearty chili I will enjoy for Meatless Monday dinner tonight.

Last week, I came across Minimalist Baker’s 1 Pot Red Lentil Chili recipe and could not get it off my mind. 

Image Source: minimalistbaker.com



Last night I made a pot with a few variations:

Instead of 2 cans of diced tomatoes, I used a mixture of fresh vine-ripe tomato and fire-roasted canned tomatoes with green chilies. (Because I love the smoky flavor of the fire roasted variety and it is what I had on hand.)    

I also used about 1 tbsp olive oil instead of grape seed oil to saute the veggies, omitted the sweet corn and coconut sugar, and I discarded half the seeds in the jalapeno.  (I was a tad afraid of the heat.)

I treat recipes like lessons and try to glean tricks or new skills. My favorite learning from this recipe was the making of a paste to spice the chili.  Inspired by Indian cooking, Dana (the Minimalist Baker) recommends using a mortar and pestle to smash and grind the jalapeno and garlic together. The breakdown of the items opens the flavor and allows it to better distribute in the dish.  I don’t have a mortar and pestle (yet), so I minced the two ingredients together, sprinkled with some coarse salt and using the back of a knife smashed and smeared it together.

The last diversion from the recipe involved timing.  After adding the lentils and simmering for 15 minutes, it needed more cooking before adding the other canned beans.  The sun was about to set and the weather so perfect, I had to get outside. I cut the heat, let carryover cooking do its thing and went out for a run.  An hour later, the lentils were beautifully tender. I added the beans, adjusted seasonings and let it simmer for another hour to meld flavors.

After a small taster bowl, I divided the chili in Mason jars, let it cool and put in the fridge for meals later in the week. (Starting today – yay!)

This chili is flavorful, and I was surprised at how the tomatoes and beans handled the heat of the jalapenos and chilis. I can take a bit more heat. Next time, I will add all the seeds of the jalapeno and a masa slurry, (masa harina mixed with water), to thicken and impart a corn flavor without the sweet of kernel corn.

Again, click here for the full recipe.
If you give it a try, please share your thoughts.

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