Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Eggplant, Lentil, and Quinoa Chili

This stew is the perfect dinner for a chilly (see what I did there?) fall evening. On the eve of a recent trip, I needed to use up an eggplant but had little other fresh produce on hand; pantry staples seemed the way to go, so I rooted around in my cupboards et voila! An hour or so later we were sitting down to this thick, fragrant chili, which is not only a delicious nutritional powerhouse (lentils, black beans, and quinoa!), but ridiculously filling as well. I didn't have any fresh herbs in the house, but next time I'll toss in a handful of chopped cilantro, so I've included it in the recipe below. That said, if you're a cilantro hater you can substitute parsley or just skip it and I guarantee the results will be every bit as good.

Eggplant, Lentil, and Quinoa Chili
~ 1 tbsp. each: olive oil, coconut oil
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 large carrot diced
~ 4 large cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
~ 2 tsp. each: chili powder, cumin
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, coriander, smoked paprika, oregano, marjoram
~ 1/2 tsp. each: cinnamon, cayenne
~ Dash nutmeg
~ A few generous grinds fresh black pepper
~ 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
~ 4 tbsp. tomato paste
~ 2 tbsp. maple syrup
~ 1 15 oz. can black beans, with liquid
~ 1 cup red lentils
~ 1 cup quinoa
~ 4 cups "no chicken" broth
~ 1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (optional)

~ In a large, deep pot, heat the oils and sauté the onion over medium-high heat for about two minutes; add the celery and carrot and cook another 3-4 minutes.
~ Add the garlic and eggplant and stir for about a minute to combine.
~ Add all the dry seasonings and mix well to coat; continue cooking 5-7 minutes, until the eggplant begins to soften (you can add a splash of water to prevent sticking if necessary).
~ Stir in the tomato paste, maple syrup, black beans, lentils, and quinoa. Mix well and cook for another few minutes, stirring.
~ Pour in the broth, stir, and then cover the pot and bring just to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant has broken down and the lentils and quinoa have become one with the whole delicious business.
~ Stir in the fresh cilantro (if using), adjust seasonings to taste, and serve with rice, cornbread, or both.

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