Thursday, May 29, 2008

Lentil Chili

For a few weeks I thought the weather had done its usual Sacramento area thing -- three days of spring, then full blast of hot summer. But we got a welcome reprieve. The last two weeks have been cool again. In fact, it was raining Saturday when I went to our local farmer's market.

On one particularly cold day I wanted to make some chili. I checked my pantry and discovered that I didn't have any beans at all. But I did have lentils. I've read a lot of lentil chili recipes and perfunctorily dismissed them. For some reason they just didn't appeal to me. But here I was, wanting chili, too lazy to go out to the store, and holding a bag of lentils. So I decided to give it a try.

Lentil Chili
(Printable Recipe)

Here's what I did: After rinsing the lentils, I put them in a soup pot, covered them with about 1-2 inches of water and cooked them for just about 20 minutes. I didn't want them to turn to mush.

In a separate pan, I sauteed one small chopped onion, a small chopped bell pepper, and a couple of cloves of minced garlic along with about 2 tablespoons of chili powder and 2 teaspoons of powdered cumin. I use any chili powder mix that is salt free, sometimes Penzey's & sometimes Grandma's.

Once the vegetables were tender, I put them in the lentil pot. Then I added one 8 oz. can of NSA tomato sauce and 1 small can of drained and rinsed diced green chilies. I let all this simmer for about 30 minutes.

When I finally tasted my concoction, I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted pretty good and was a perfect cool weather dinner.

Lentils cook quickly and require no soaking. One reason why they're great to have around for fairly fast bean-type dinners and/or salads.

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