Lentil Chili Nachos!

I am definitely my mother’s daughter in a lot of ways: we look really similar, we love outlet shopping, we have the same sense of humor. One thing I have really come to appreciate in my mom is her love for the slow cooker, which she has definitely passed down to me. Without fail, whenever we’re on the phone and I tell her I don’t know what I’m making for dinner, she tells me, “Put something in the crock pot!” And she’s always right (even though I don’t always do it). The slow cooker really is one of my absolute favorite kitchen tools, and I would be lost without it.

I have a few slow cooker cookbooks, and after finding this lentil chili recipe on Kid Tested Firefighter Approved, I might have to pick up Robin Robertson’s Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker, too; this chili is delicious, versatile (you’ll see!), and a snap to make.

Lentil Chili ingredients

I had just enough brown lentils left for this recipe, which was definitely a sign! Not pictured: the Mexican Oregano incident of 2013, in which, after putting it in this dish, I dropped that nearly-full little bottle of (expensive!) Mexican oregano, at which point it exploded all over my kitchen floor. Awesome.

Instead of using all chili powder, I used 2 tablespoons regular chili powder, and 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder – I think this made all the difference from a really good to a great chili, and I highly recommend it if you can get your hands on it! It adds a little spice and smokiness to it.

This is basically a dump-and-cook recipe; the onions, garlic, chili, and bell pepper call for a little saute before cooking, but if you’re really short on time, do it the night before and just keep it in the fridge.

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Happy spoon loves it! This is what it looks like when all the ingredients go into the slow cooker, and 6-8 hours later, it becomes…

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Chili! I was feeling good about chili, but I got a flash of inspiration while it was cooking, and we turned it into the best nachos I’ve ever had – no joke. If you have self-control, you can stop there, or you can go all the way:

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Cheese and sour cream, nachos’ best friends. The only thing I regret here is not having an avocado on hand, then it would have been perfect. You could also serve this over rice, or just a bowl on its own! It’s delicious and versatile – and it makes a ton, so you will have leftovers! I meant to freeze some but didn’t, but I suspect this would be perfect for that. I highly recommend it!

Slow Cooker Lentil Chili – slightly adapted from Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson, as posted on Kid Tested, Firefighter Approved

  • 1 medium onion (or 3 shallots, which I used), chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced (you can always add more!)
  • 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped (I used a mix of red, orange, and yellow pepper from our CSA)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder (or substitute another 1 T of chili powder)
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (or substitute regular oregano)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used jarred tomato puree, again from our CSA)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 4 cups water/broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions, garlic, jalapeño  and bell pepper over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until soft. Add the chili powders, oregano, and cumin, and saute for 30 seconds more.

Transfer the onion mixture to your slow cooker; add the rest of the ingredients except salt. Cook for 6-8 hours on low (mine did cook about 7-8 hours). Add salt to taste. Serve any way you like!

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