Waking up to a snow covered city this week made me realize there is no more denying it… winter is here. And while that does mean turning on the heaters, pulling out the sweaters, and dressing in layers, it also means a lot more hot comfort meals. Chili is a favorite of mine, and I have a bunch of chili recipes to choose from (and more to come to the blog as well), this one is a recent favorite. Mostly because it comes together pretty easily, there isn’t a whole lot of chopping involved, and it uses ingredients I pretty much always have in the pantry and fridge.
It’s actually a play on a sweet potato chocolate chili I make all the time, except that instead of adding the sweet potato the chili, I use them as cute little boats to serve the chili over instead of rice. I mean, how cute are these?
The chili cooks up over the stove while the sweet potatoes are roasting, so you can basically set it, and walk away for a bit. Just enough time to catch up on a Netflix episode or pick back up some Christmas knitting. Or both, in my case, it’s always both.
If you’re feeling a little bit worried about the cocoa powder in the recipe, rest assured its unsweetened and won’t make this taste like a funky cake batter. It really just adds an extra depth of flavor to the chili and counters the heat of the chipotle and the acidity of the tomatoes.
Of course, if you want a meatier texture you can add some soy crumbles or TVP, but I rather like the taste and texture brown lentils provide. Plus you can keep them indefinitely in the pantry which means I won’t have to run out to the store when I decide to whip up this recipe at the last minute. If you’re serving these to children, you may want to cut back on the amount of spice or eliminate it all together. Top the chili boats with vegan cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro, or roasted sunflower seeds. Or set up a condiment bar and let people top their own. This is also a great recipe for fuss-free entertaining as you can prepare a platter of them for a beautiful main course that can be completed with a simple side salad.
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- Olive oil or coconut oil for brushing
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ - 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can black beans
- ½ cup dried brown lentils
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, nutritional yeast, green onions, avocado, cilantro, pumpkin seeds
- To make the sweet potatoes: Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Scrub the potatoes to remove any dirt and halve lengthwise. Arrange the potatoes cut side up on a baking sheet, brush or drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 35-40 minutes until tender.
- To make the chili: in a shallow saucepan with a lid, heat the oil over medium heat.
- Once the oil begins to ripple, add the onions and saute until translucent, 2-3 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
- Stir in the diced peppers, dried lentils, chipotle powder, paprika, and oregano. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, cocoa powder, maple syrup, and water and stir to combine. Simmer over medium heat, partially covered until the mixture has thickened and the lentils are tender about 30 minutes.
- Add the chopped cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve over the roasted sweet potatoes with the toppings of your choice. The chili mixture can also be cooked ahead of time and reheated.