Red rice, red lentil, and black bean chili

Red lentil and red rice chili

Red lentil and red rice chili

“I don’t mean I’m oversexed or anything like that – although I am quite sexy.” So saith Holden Caulfield. I’ve always loved Holden’s interpretation of the word “sexy.” It has nothing to do with looks or skill or experience and everything to do with curiosity and enthusiasm. He’s sexy because he thinks about sex a lot, and by this standard everybody is sexy! I think this shade of meaning should be applied to many other words as well. Sometimes I think I’m a funny person, not because I make good jokes, but because I like good jokes. I’m no wit or wag or stand-up comedian, but I like to look for the humor in most situations, I like to be around people who are cleverer and funnier than me. I’m musical because I love music, not because I’m particularly good at playing it, although I like to try sometimes. I always have a song in my head, and often I will sing it. Similarly, in this light, a person could be beautiful not because of any physical attributes, but because they find beauty in the world and people around them. This attitude seems so much more warm and genuine and generous than more judgmental use of these words, which reward some people and find others lacking. It’s all from within, attainable and universal. And it’s so much more true to life as it’s actually lived. Sexiness, for instance, has little to do with makeup and clothes and airbrushing and all of the other trappings of foxiness that we’re sold on a daily basis. It has everything to do with confusion and passion and messiness and ardor; qualities that can’t be graded, sold or faked. I believe this is true of most things in life worth pursuing, of anything that we create,it’s all best when it’s fueled by fervor, emotion and imagination, even if it’s something you don’t understand at all.

David said this was the best chili I’d ever made! I made it on a snowy snowy night, the should-have-been-a-blizzard of ’15. The red rice has a nice, chewy, toothsome quality, which makes this satisfying and comforting. The red lentils cook down to become almost creamy, and the black beans add their lovely earthiness. It’s smoky with smoked paprika and roasted red peppers, and brightened with a little balsamic, pepper flakes and cumin. Red rice can be found in most grocery stores, these days, at least the fancier ones. It’s vegan if you leave the butter out, which you could easily do.

Here’s Right Said Fred, of course!

2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 plump clove garlic, minced
1/2 t oregano
1 t basil
3 or 4 sage leaves, minced
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup red rice
1/2 t cumin
1 t smoked paprika
1 cup roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 can (16 oz) black beans, rinsed and well-drained
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (Or just diced tomatoes)
1 t balsamic vinegar
1 T butter (optional, it’s vegan if you leave it out)

In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot, stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the garlic and the herbs, stir and cook. Add the lentils and rice, and stir till they’re coated, and cook until they seem a little toasty. Add the spices, black beans and red peppers, stir and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes and enough water to cover by an inch or so, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for about half an hour, until the lentils are soft, and the rice is cooked but toothsome. Stir in some butter (if you’re using) and balsamic, and season well with salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper.


4 thoughts on “Red rice, red lentil, and black bean chili

  1. Amazingly, I actually have every single ingredient to make this dish… so will try it out tomorrow night. But what would one serve it with? Is it a stand-alone dish, or does it need something else with it? I’m thinking it looks like a bit like a dal-type dish, so maybe basmati or rotis???

    • Basmati and rotis would be lovely with this! We’re on our way out to an Indian restaurant, at this moment so I might be influenced by that. We ate it with a sort of soft cheesy cornbread, and some grated cheese and cholula, and basmati!

      • Do you cover the pot once it’s done boiling?… I feel like that should happen since it’s cooking rice… but maybe not since it’s cooking for a whole hour?

      • I don’t think I covered the pot. The rice usually cooks in 20 minutes, so an hour should do it! Just add liquid if it gets too dry or thick. Almost like a risotto, I guess!

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