There are those moments of inspiration that catch you off guard - you feel that rush of excitement as your dreams are realizing, and all the planning and effort are coming together. These moments usually come after working towards your goal for quite a while - drudging through a lot of “uh-uh’s” until you come to your “aha!”.'
At times you'll experience huge firework explosion moments of inspiration, and other times the inspiration will turn on like little lightbulbs. When we allow ourselves to embrace those smaller glimmers, we will inevitably experience the bigger bursts. Inspiration can be learned, just like trying tie your shoes.
I encountered a flicker of inspiration the other day.
It was Monday morning and I was sitting at my computer attempting to do some meal planning for the week. Before I head out to buy more groceries, I try to shop my pantry and fridge and use up as much of the available food as possible. Getting bored of googling ingredients, I got up from my seat and walked over to the fridge to stare at the produce for the upteenth time. Just then, I had my moment of inspiration.
I was all like WOAH - it’s chili time, yo.
But not just any chili, this one had neither meat or beans. Nope. None. If lacking those two ingredients no longer makes this a chili, we can alternatively call it “deliciously spicy lentil stew” or something.
In place of meat and beans there are super versatile, “meaty” lentils. I love lentils, and always have a bag of them in the house for times such as these. Also along for the ride we’ve got corn, carrots, and red bell pepper that have been charred in the broiler to bring out their sweet smokiness. From there, it’s all pretty simple. Everything goes into one pan and gets cooked for about 30 minutes, until those lentils are tender and the spices and other fixin’s have become BFF’s.
As far as spices needed, you’ll be using your basic chili powder (see below on how to make your own!), cumin, etc. Please don’t judge my use of ketchup, because it’s really really good in chili. Ketchup provides all the necessary/tasty elements - the acidity from the tomatoes, a bit of sweetness, and some tang from the vinegar. Ketchup has way bigger shoes to fill than your burger or hot dog shoes.
That makes no sense.
This chili is hearty and filling, and absolutely divine when topped with some cabbage slaw.
The slaw I make (sorry - no recipe yet), is really simple and made of ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. You just slice up some cabbage really thinly, toss it in a bowl with salt, pepper, cumin, mayo, apple cider vinegar, and a lil’ bit of white sugar. It’s real tangy and a lil’ creamy and just perfect with chili. Try it out and taste as you go!
As for the chilli recipe, please see below.
½ red bell pepper
2 medium size carrots, peeled
1 ear of corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder (make yer own!)
½ tablespoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry lentils*
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup ketchup + 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon Tapatio (or other hot sauce of choice)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
Char red bell pepper, carrot, and corn in your broiler on high. The red bell pepper will take the least amount of time (just a few minutes), while the corn and carrots will take longer (closer to 10 minutes). Turn the veg until charred on all sides.
Remove charred veggies to a platter and let them cool. Once cooled, dice the carrots and red pepper, and slice corn off of cob into a bowl.
Heat the oil in a deep, wide pan over medium and add the veggies and salt. Cook for just a couple minutes, until warmed, then add the garlic and chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon and cook for just about a minute more.
Add the lentils, tomato paste, ketchup, Tapatio, and soy sauce and stir - mixing the veggies, lentils, and all the flavors together.
Add the veggie broth and water, stir. Then allow the chili to come up to a simmer. Turn the heat down to medium low, and simmer, partially covered for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Serve topped with slaw, onions, greek yogurt, cheese, hot sauce, fresh herbs, etc.
*be sure to sort through your lentils for any little stones! You don’t want to break your teeth.