As I stared at the ground beef that had been defrosting in my sink for most of the day, I couldn’t help but think, “What now?!” I didn’t want to make the obvious: hamburgers, spaghetti and meatballs, or tacos. Not that there is anything wrong with those dishes, I just wasn’t in the mood for’em and I also hadn’t done the grocery shopping for this week so some of the necessary ingredients were M.I.A. So I did what any formal informally trained cook would do, scan through my pantry and freezer to see what I could throw together with what was available. I saw lentils. I thought, “man I want something with lentils.” Right beside them were my canned tomatoes–tomato sauce, diced and spiced tomatoes, tomato paste, etc. My next thought was, “Can I make chili with lentils?” To answer this question I did a search and immediately found several Beef and lentil chili. I looked through half a dozen but didn’t see anything that really appealed to me so I decided to do this everything but the kitchen sink style. So I scoured my pantry and freezer and put together what I thought would make a tasty Beef and Lentil chili.This recipe is very simple and easy to make. It is also quite versatile and could easily be made vegetarian for all our non-meat eating friends.
SIMPLE Beef and Lentil Chili (Yields: 4-6, 1 cup servings)
2 tbsp of EVOO
1 lb lean ground beef (90 or above lean, grassfed if desired)
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can of chili style diced tomatoes
1 cup of dry red lentils (picked over and rinsed)
2 cups unsalted chicken stock
Ground red cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a large stock pot to medium heat. Once thoroughly heated, add EVOO and ground beef. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook until brown. Add diced onions and red bell peppers and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add both cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, the lentils and 2 cups of chicken stock. Stir until well combined and add desired seasonings to your taste.
FYI! I never measure the seasoning. Taste as you go. And remember to only taste the broth because the lentils are raw and will taste NASTY if you take a big bite of them uncooked. Trust me. :o)
Cook for about 10-12 minutes uncovered to let some of the broth evaporate in order to create a thick chili. Bring down to low/med heat half covered to let out steam. Cook for another 10-15 minutes or until lentils are soft.
Making it a meal
While this cooked, I put some Pepperidge Farm artisan rolls (You can find them in the freezer section at your local supermarket) in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes (last 10 minutes of the chili). We ate chili with a nice roll that helped soak up any lingering chili juices that didn’t make it to my mouth. If not interested in a roll, a grilled cheese always pair nicely with a bowl of chili.
Tips and substitutions
And of course this is a blank canvas. You can add corn, green peppers, green beans, okra, or any other vegetable that you would like to throw in. Not a fan of lentils? Use any bean you want-kidney, black beans, cannellini, etc. There is also a really nice stew mix in the frozen food section at Publix (check your local supermarket) that would be wonderful in this chili and all the veggies are chopped for you. Saves you time and money! By doubling the vegetables, adding tofu or soy meat crumbles, this could easily become vegetarian friendly.
Charlee’s Chomp–the taste…
The chili had a nice smokey flavor with a little bit of bite from the cayenne. The lentils were tender but had a slight crunch which created a nice layer of textures against the ground beef, and vegetables. This Beef and Lentil chili is protein packed, full of flavor and easy on your waste line. This dish has it all. Hearty and heart healthy.
Hope you enjoy this dish!
If you made this, leave a comment and let me know how it worked out for you!