Why Call it Chili if it’s Hot?

OK, bad joke, if you even want to call a 5 year-olds attempt at humor a joke.  Every vegetarian has a favorite chili recipe.  It’s probably one of the first things you veganize; often starting out just replacing the meat with some TVP or crumbled tempeh.  I know my mom made chili when I was a kid but I can’t separate the spaghetti sauce recipe from the sloppy joe recipe from the chili recipe.  They all involved ground beef, a can of tomato sauce and some spices.  When I became a vegetarian my go to recipe was Julie Jordan’s Cashew Chili from Wings of Life.  I’m not sure I even have her cookbook anymore, it may have been purged in the great cookbook purge.   I’m sure it’s found another good home, and I can live with the fond memories of that rather simple chili.  My tastes have changed since then and I like something a little sturdier with a bit of a kick.  Enter my own secret ingredient chili recipe.  Yes, I will share the secret ingredient.  What’s a secret if not to share.  I like to make this in the crock-pot but I’m sure it work on the stove top as well.

Dawn’s Secret Ingredient Chili

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Saute veggies and garlic in olive oil until soft and just starting to turn brown, about 5 minutes. 

Then add:

  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Stir and cook another 2 minutes.  In the crock pot place:

  • 3/4 c. dry lentils
  • 1 – 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-15oz can fire-roasted tomatoes

Spoon the veggies and spice mixture on top.  Pour 1 cup of water into the same skillet; heat it slightly to deglaze the pan.  Pour the water, and all the little burned bits that come off in the water, over the ingredients in the crock pot.  Now add the secret ingredient actually 2 secret ingredients:

  • 2 T. molasses
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Put the lid on the crock pot and cook on low for 4 hours.

With this bowl of deliciousness I made roasted sweet potatoes sprinkled with smoked paprika and sea salt, and a pile of steamed kale again with the sea salt and just the smallest drizzle of maple syrup.

Oh yummmmmo.  The sweet potatoes tasted like glazed donuts, the kale was salty and sweet and the chili was just perfect.  I swear it tasted even more delicious eaten from my favorite bowl (you know the one that ran away with the spoon)


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