I had two pounds of extra lean ground beef that needed to be used and chili sounded like a great idea. I wanted a different recipe, one we hadn’t tried before. I’m not sure why red lentils popped into my mind, but I thought someone must have used them in chili before. In a search I found a recipe at Kalyn’s Kitchen and was pleased. It used roasted red peppers, and I had a bag of long red peppers.
Kalyn said she adapted the recipe from Bon Appetit magazine and I have found many of their recipes to be delicious. This was a vegan recipe and as such intended to be meatless. As my goal was to use meat, I adapted the recipe. I also omitted the black olives. We love olives but not in chili. Since I only had red lentils I used 1 1/4 cups red ones. I may try the recipe again for a meatless meal and add the olives to get the added flavor. But today we’re olive-less and red
I diced the onions and started them in a skillet with some olive oil. When they were beginning to brown I added the meat and fried until it also had browned, caramelized areas. The flavor is in the brown, as the tv chefs say of meat! When my onion and meat mixture was done I added it to a large dutch oven with the broth. I didn’t have vegetable broth so I used the chicken bouillion cubes I like to use that are actually vegan.
I brought the pot to a boil then measured out the red lentils and added them. I added the spices and let it simmer for 20 minutes. The recipe noted that the lentils cooked slower when the tomato sauce was added early, so I waited and added my can of diced tomatoes after the lentils had cooked for about 20 minutes. I was out of tomato sauce so used the diced tomatoes because they would also add to the texture of a good chili.
Roasted red peppers are so popular right now, they pop up in recipes all over. I adore their flavor and love to roast my own. I simply trim them and slice them in half, then put them on a foil covered baking sheet and broil them until they’re pretty black. I them put them into a zippered bag and let them set awhile. Later I can easily peel off the skins and I have lovely, tasty peppers. For this recipe I used 5 peppers that were smaller and long shaped. I chopped them and added them to the chili when I added the diced tomatoes.
The chili simmered for about 20 more minutes and was ready to serve. It didn’t thicken alot, but it was very tasty and a bit spicy. I’d used the suggested Mexican oregano since I had that on hand, and then added cayenne as well. It wasn’t overly spicy, I thought it was just right.
My only disappointment was that the chili wasn’t thicker, as I love to make an omelet in the morning and put chili and cheese over it for a treat. My omelet would have been swimming, so I had to pass on it this time. Oh well. It was great chili and I got to use up my ground beef and some red lentils. And the red peppers of course!
Red Lentil Roasted Red Pepper Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 pounds extra lean ground beef
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
1/8 tsp. dried Chipotle chile pepper (or cayenne; use more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
1 1/4 cup red lentils
5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
2 cups water
15 ounces diced canned tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced green onions
6 ounce can black olives, drained and sliced
3 roasted red peppers, chopped
lime slices for serving (optional)
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onions just until they begin to brown. Add the ground beef and fry until it has brown caramelization on it as well.
Into a large dutch oven or soup kettle add the broth, water, and meat mixture when browned. Add garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and chipotle or cayenne powder. Add the brown lentils and red lentils, vegetable broth, water, and tomato sauce and heat until the mixture comes to a low boil.
Reduce heat to a low simmer and let the mixture cook until red lentils are mostly softened. Cooking time will depend on how fresh the lentils are; mine took about 30 minutes. (Tomatoes make the lentils cook a bit more slowly, so if you’re in a hurry don’t add the tomato sauce until lentils are starting to get tender.)
While the mixture cooks, slice the green onions, drain olives and cut into slices, and prepare the roasted red pepper and chop into small pieces. When lentils are cooked, add tomatoes, olives, and roasted red pepper and let the mixture simmer 15-20 minutes more. Taste and add salt and pepper as desired.