Vegetarian Chilli

This is a slow cooked vegetarian take on Chilli con Carne; using lentils instead of ground beef. With sweet aromatic spices and the rich smoky flavour from the roasted tomatoes and pepper this is a very tasty, rich and satisfying vegan dish. We served it with Spanish style rice and a simple guacamole, which I will include in the recipe and a side of warm tortillas. You could also serve it up with dairy or non-dairy cheese and sour cream. I pre-cooked the lentils a little; you could omit this step and just use tinned (approx 2 tins) if you prefer, although they may not retain their texture as well when slow cooked. This recipe makes a large pot with plenty of Chilli for at least 6 people. A satisfying, low-fat and meat-free version of a classic and much loved dish; serve this delicious vegan Chilli for guest or when you have a hungry family to feed.

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Vegetarian Chilli

Preparation time: 2hr 30mins // Serves 6

  • 2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (I used a no animal content ‘beef’ stock)
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1cm (½ inch) cinnamon stick
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper)
  • 2 chillies (optional or to taste), diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 cobs fresh corn (kernels removed) OR 1 can of tinned corn
  • 1-2 cups stock (extra)

Add the lentils, onion, bay leaves, cinnamon and liquid stock to a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil; turn heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 200°C/390°F.

Slice the capsicum in half and remove seeds and membrane. Place the capsicum cut side down and the whole tomatoes onto a baking dish.

Place in the pre-heated oven and roast for 20-30 minutes until soft and the skins are just starting to brown.

Remove from the oven a set aside to cool. Once cool puree in a kitchen wiz or by passing through a sieve to get a smooth consistency; set aside.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a large heavy based pot; add the chilli and garlic and cook for 1 minute over a medium heat. Add the spices and cook for a further minute until fragrant.

Add the pureed tomatoes and capsicum, tomato paste, brown sugar and stock cube. Cook over a medium heat until sugar and stock cube have dissolved.

Add the lentils and any remaining liquid and the corn kernels; stir well to combine.

Bring to a simmer and then turn heat down low. Gently cook the Chilli over a very low heat for up to 2 hours; adding more stock when needed so as to keep the Chilli from sticking. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick before serving.

for the Spanish rice

  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ cup Spanish black olives, pitted & sliced

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large fry pan; add the red onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the rice and spices; toss through.

Add the water and cover with a well fitting lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes over a low heat until all the water is absorbed and rice is tender. Stir through olives.

Just before serving place the frypan with the cooked rice under a medium grill. Grill carefully for 2-3 minutes until the top is golden and crunchy.

for the Simple Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados, flesh removed
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt & Pepper

Mash the avocados in a bowl with the lime juice and salt & pepper to taste.

Serve the Chilli topped with guacamole and jalapeños or sliced green onions; with a side of rice and warm tortillas or with vegetarian or non-dairy cheese and/or sour cream.

A perfect family meal for hungry bellies or as a filling dish when entertaining friends! Enjoy!

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