Spicy Vegetarian Lentil and Red Bean Chili


I just realized that every dish I’ve blogged about (besides dessert) so far has had meat in it.  In reality, Novin and I like to eat vegetarian meals at least once or twice a week to avoid overdosing on the red stuff. Plus, it’s said that cutting down on meat-eating can help the environment, promote weight loss, heart health, save money…and the list goes on. When we do eat meat, we buy the locally raised, grass-fed “happy cows and chickens,” as my uncle likes to say.

Since the weather turned fall-like basically overnight, I thought a hot bowl of chili-vegetarian chili-sounded good. Not to mention, super super easy since I could throw everything in the slow cooker (my best friend) and forget about it.

You can’t really screw up this recipe. When in doubt, just add more spices or tomato sauce. If it’s too thick for your taste, add a little water. As usual, I didn’t measure everything out exactly, just kept adding spices until it suited my taste. If you don’t have the patience for dried beans to cook, go ahead and substitute a can or two of beans. Since we ran out of tomato sauce, I used fresh, chopped tomatoes.

Everything thrown into the slow cooker. Ready for cooking!

Ingredients

1/2 cup dried green lentils

1/2 cup dried red beans (you can really use any bean you want)

1 can diced tomatoes (or 2-3 large fresh tomatoes)

1 can tomato sauce

1 bell pepper, any color

4 cups low-sodium broth (I used chicken, but if you are a true vegetarian use vegetable broth)

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

garlic powder 1-2 tsp.

oregano 1-2 tsp.

onion powder 1-2 tsp.

a pinch of cayenne, or more if you like heat

chili powder, about 2 T

ancho chile powder 1-2 tsp. (optional; I like a lot of heat in my chili)

1 Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (in a can), pour in a little of the sauce too

1-2 T ground cumin

1 cup frozen corn kernels

1/2- 1 cup zucchini (because I STILL have zucchini relentlessly coming out of the garden)

vegetarian soy Chorizo sausage (optional, but really adds flavor)

salt, to taste

Throw all ingredients in the slow cooker before you leave for work, or put in night before and refrigerate until you have to leave in the morning. Turn on low heat…and come home to dinner! (Mine cooked for about 10 hours.) Serve with a piece of whole wheat toast. (I like my toast with a little Smart Balance Light butter spread and a sprinkle of garlic powder for a light garlic toast.)

Makes 4-6 servings.

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