This is probably the fastest chili I’ve ever made without using canned beans. The secret is black beluga lentils, which cook quickly and keep their shapes, giving this chili a very hearty texture. I combined them with split red lentils, which cook just as quickly but break down to create a thicker broth. Together they made a very different but most delicious chili.
If you’ve never seen black lentils, they are tiny:
I found them in bulk at Whole Foods, and I think I got distracted by their cuteness as I was filling the bag because I came home with a couple of pounds of them. But this chili was such a success that I will be using them all the time now.
They cook in practically no time under pressure in my Fagor Multicooker, to which I have recently added a stainless steel liner. I have to admit to spraying it with just the tiniest amount of oil because I was afraid the steel would stick more than the Fagor’s original non-stick pan. But I love the weight of the stainless steel pot, and I think it cooks more evenly than the non-stick.
Here’s another time-saving tip. Whenever I have a lot of garlic to peel for a recipe, I use a trick I discovered a couple of years ago:
I take two plastic Mardi Gras cups of different sizes, making sure that one fits snugly inside the other, toss in the garlic, and shake for about 10-20 seconds. The sound of the garlic clattering around actually changes as the peels come off, alerting me to when it is peeled. Sometimes a stubborn clove or two remains unpeeled, but they’re easier to peel after shaking. You can even do this with a whole head of garlic.
To chop the garlic quickly, I just whirled it in my food processor, which, I realize in hindsight, I could have used for the onions and peppers, too. Even with chopping the vegetables by hand, this chili was so quick and easy (and good) that it is destined to be a Family Favorite. It’s a very basic recipe that I’m sure you could add any vegetables you like to (like kale!) I kept it simple and served it with our other new family favorite, Simple Chopped Salad.
Black and Red Lentil Chili
Black lentils hold their shapes while red lentils break down slightly to thicken the chili. This is one of those dishes that tastes best after the flavors have a chance to blend, so if possible, make it ahead of time and reheat before serving.
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups or 1/2 lb.)
- 1 large bell pepper, any color, chopped (about 1 cup or 5 oz.)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (or to taste)
- 1 cup black (beluga) lentils, rinsed and picked over (see notes below)
- 1/4 cup split red lentils (I use Swad Masoor Dal), rinsed and picked over
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (I use Pacific Foods Organic)
- 1 16-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt (optional or to taste)
- Heat your pressure cooker (use the “brown” setting on electric PC’s); if necessary, spray or rub lightly with oil. Add the onions and cook until they begin to brown, adding water by the tablespoon if they start to stick. Add the peppers and garlic and cook for another couple of minutes, adding water as needed.
- Add all the dry spices and the lentils and cook while stirring for another minute. Stir in the vegetable broth and tomatoes. Lock the lid in place, and bring to high pressure (switch to high pressure setting on electric PC and set timer for 10 minutes). After 10 minutes at high pressure, remove from heat or turn off and allow pressure to come down naturally for at least 10 minutes.
- Use a quick release method to release the pressure and open the lid carefully. Stir and check that lentils are tender; if not, cover loosely with the lid and heat on low (“warm” setting) until they are soft. Add the vinegar, soy sauce, and salt to taste. If the chili seems too thick, add additional broth or water. Check seasonings and add extra to taste. Serve sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.
If you don’t have a pressure cooker, follow the first steps to brown the vegetables in a large Dutch oven or pot. Then simply cook, covered, on low until the lentils are done, adding additional water or broth if it gets too thick. Allow at least 30 minutes.
If you can’t find black beluga lentils, try using French green lentils, also known as puy lentils.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
Nutrition (per serving): 266 calories, 13 calories from fat, 1.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 811.6mg sodium, 716.6mg potassium, 47.3g carbohydrates, 19.3g fiber, 5.7g sugar, 16.9g protein. Sodium content assumes 1 teaspoon of salt; if not using salt, actual amount per serving is 230mg.
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