I know it is weird, but I love cauliflower in my chili. I like how it stays a bit crisp even once cooked, providing a nice crunch to the chili. I also like how it takes on the seasonings of the chili. My first version was Black Bean and Cauliflower Chili and it is still a regular on our menu, but I have fallen in love with lentils, so I decided to update my old favorite recipe. I like it so much I am submitting it to Miz Helen’s Texas Chili Cook Off, though I am not sure she has a “crunchy mountain mama” category.
This is a very healthy, stick-to-your-ribs kind of chili even though it is meatless. Instead of adding flour or cornstarch, I overcooked half of the lentils to create a thick base; after the chili was cooked, I added the rest of the lentils in as the “beans”.
Just in case you were wondering how I get my kids to eat so many vegetables, I will tell you my secret: spices! When I was cooking this chili I asked my daughter to taste test it. She said, “You better add more spices; I can still taste the vegetables”. Actually, it didn’t need more spices, it just needed a little more time simmering so the flavors could meld. But her comment is telling; I can get my kids to eat just about any vegetable if I put enough chili seasoning on it!
1 lb. lentils
32 oz. vegetable broth
4 cups cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
4 cups tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 –2 teaspoons ground red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
In a large stew pot, cook lentils according to the directions on the package (~ 30 minutes). While the lentils are cooking, chop, dice, and mince vegetables.
When the lentils are ready, remove half the lentils and set aside. Add broth to the lentils in the pot. Add vegetables and spices the the broth and cook on high until it reaches a boil. Lower flame and simmer for 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.
Do you add any unusual ingredients to your chili?