I've promised myself that I wouldn't talk about the weather, but I am breaking down. I am talking about the weather.
As you are probably well aware, my part of the world has been abnormally cold this year. I'm talking, wrap you face in a scarf, cold. Take a cab 5 blocks because it's 2 degrees and windy and I can't feel my fingers, cold. I've cut my dog's morning walk in half, and I've invested in one of those goofy-looking hunter hats (which has become my essential winter uniform piece). I've neglected any sense of fashion for warmth, and if I have to wear tights under my jeans one more day, I might just cry.
There. I got that out, I feel much better now.
There are some upsides to a frigid winter …. the comfort of a roaring fire, not feeling guilty about staying inside all day on a Sunday to watch a marathon of Scandal, and warm bowls of delicious food. I love warm bowls of delicious food.
This chili is dark, like this winter, with splashes of purple and green for the promise of spring. Hummm … maybe this was my (unintentional) artistic expression of coming into spring. Yes, let's go with that.
Spring is coming people, and when it does, we are going to party and frolic in central park like never before. This is going to be one of the more joyous and well-desered seasons I can remember. Give me back my open-toed shoes, and bring on the ramps and artichokes. I cannot wait ….
Until then, we have big, warm, delicious bowls of chili with accents of color to keep us going.
Normally, I am an advocate of cooking chili for as long as possible to really get the flavors going, but sometimes we don't have the time for that. This chili is for my busy friends who want to make a one pot dinner after work on a Tuesday night. Even with only an hour of cooking time, this chili manages to pack a lot of flavor thanks to some of my favorite secret chili ingredients: espresso dark chocolate, and chilies in adobo.
If you do end up having extras, you can keep them in the fridge, and have a killer lunch to take with you on Thursday or Friday. You know that chili is one of those things that only gets better when it sits in the fridge for a couple of days.
beluga lentil + black bean chili with purple cabbage
If you cannot find or do not have access to espresso dark chocolate or chilies in adobo, you can go without. You will still have a flavorful chili. Or, you can try adding a 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika to sub for the chilies. You can use regular dark chocolate bar (70% cacao or higher) if you cannot find a dark chocolate with espresso in it.
4-6 as a meal
a couple tablespoons of grapeseed oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
a pinch of two of cayenne
7 cloves of garlic, minced
4-5 serrano or jalapeño chilies, de-seeded and sliced thin
3 chilpotle chilies in adobo (optional, but highly recommended)
a 16oz can of organic, diced tomatoes
2 cups of black beluga lentils, rinsed
2 cups of black beans, organic canned or soaked and cooked
5-6 cups of water
a large handful of cilantro, chopped
2 - 1" square pieces of an espresso dark chocolate bar - 70% cacao or higher (optional, but highly recommended)
2 cups of purple cabbage, sliced thin
1-2 cups of cooked rice of your choice, for serving
optional toppings: hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, micro greens, additional chopped cilantro
- In a medium to large sized heavy bottom pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add in the onions, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and salt, and cook for several minutes until the onion are soft.
- Add in the garlic and serrano chilies and cook for another 5 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
- Add in the chipotle chilies and tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes, and then add in the lentils and stir to coat the lentils with the mixture. **If you're using dried beans that have been soaked and cooked you will add them as well at this point, however, if you are using canned beans, you are going to add them after 30 minutes, when the lentils have cooked and are tender.
- Pour in 4 cups of water. You want the water to be about 2 inches above the ingredients, and keep in mind, you may add more water later depending on how thick you would like your chili. Bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes with a lid sitting loosely on top. Stir occasionally.
- Once your lentils are tender and have cooked through, if you are using canned beans you will add them at this point. You may also want to add more water if you feel that the chili has cooked down too much. Start with one cup, simmer the chili for another 20-30 minutes then check back. If you still feel like it needs more water then add another cup, but I feel around 5 cups should give you a good ratio of thickness.
- Add in the chocolate and stir until it has melted through. Then add the cilantro and stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust any salt or other seasoning as necessary.
- At this point, if you like you can add in the purple cabbage and allow it to cook slightly so it becomes more tender, but I like to add it on top of the chili when serving so that it still have a nice crunch to it.
- To serve, ladle the warm chili into bowls and top with hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, some extra cilantro, micro greens, and the purple cabbage (if you did not add earlier). This will get better over time, so feel free to keep some in an air-tight container in the fridge to eat later in the week. When stored properly, it should keep for about a week.