There’s nothing better than a crowd-pleaser when you’re cooking for a lots of people. This is loosely based on Ann Jones’ recipe for Vegetarian Chilli, but makes greater use of vegetables rather than grains. I love bulk cooking which gives me enough for a couple of meals during the week or week-end, and a few to put in the freezer for later. Halve the quantities if you want a more manageable potful. The beauty of dishes like these is that you can use up all sorts of odds and ends from your pantry and fridge. Just remember to have enough different textures in the dish otherwise it’ll taste very samey. Now, I love a bit of heat but, if you don’t, dial back on the amount of chilli (fresh and powder) that’s added.
Ingredients (Serves 10-12 hungry cyclists)
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 4 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp ancho chilli powder
- 1 tbsp jalapeno chilli powder
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 × 400g (14 oz) tins of chopped tomatoes
- 300g (10 oz) green lentils, washed
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) white wine
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) brewed coffee
- 1 kg (2 lb) mixed vegetables* (see mix below)
- 1 litre vegetable stock/water
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2. Add the chilli powders, cinnamon, cumin, coriander and stir around in the pan for 1-2 minutes. Add the lentils and stir them well into the mix, before adding white wine, and then tomato paste.
3. Now add all the other ingredients (except coffee and any green leaves), including 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. Bring pan to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover with greaseproof paper and the lid, simmer gently for at least 40-45 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are cooked. If, the chilli starts to look a bit dry, add further stock or water.
4. You can either season to taste, stir in the green leaves, fish out the cinnamon sticks and star anise then serve, or leave it to go cold and refrigerate over night for serving the following day or two. Add coffee before re-heating and check seasoning again before serving with tortillas, or baked potatoes, or rice, or polenta with maybe a tomato salsa or guacamole – the possibilities are endless!
The final pictures don’t look too appetising – I really must work on my photography skills – but the end result was delicious – honest!
Sheree’s Handy Hints
1. I use a mix of vegetables to provide a variety of tastes and textures. In this batch I used carrots, sweet potato, cauliflower, broccoli and chard. I cut the carrots and sweet potatoes into similarly sized pieces, chopped the chard stalks and added those with the rest of the vegetables adding the shredded leaves for adding just before serving and broke the cauliflower and broccoli into similar sized florets. While, most vegetables would work, instinctively I would avoid those such as sugar-snap peas, leeks and asparagus while embracing sweet corn, peas, artichoke hearts, celery, spinach, swede, parsnip, turnip, beetroot, courgettes (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), and green beans.
2. Feel free to substitute the lentils for other pulses and legumes such as chickpeas, cannellini, black or red kidney beans.
3. You can swap some of the vegetables for mushrooms which add another texture and meaty flavour to the chilli.
4. This will sit happily for 3-4 days in the fridge or the freeze for a month.