Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lentil & Pumpkin Chili, or The Triumphant Autumnal Return of Guerilla Kitchen

As the first day of Fall, this turned out to be the perfect pumpkin-themed day for the triumphant return of Guerilla Kitchen. If you can say that a two-week hiatus warrants a triumphant return. Whatever. Anyway, I love anything with pumpkins in it, which is just another reason why Fall is my very most favorite season of the year. Apparently that cranky lady Irene has created the specter of a pumpkin shortage here on the east coast, but I intend to enjoy them while they last.

1/4 large onion of any color, chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped, and/or 1 medium carrot, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (with or without green chiles)
1 14.5 oz can vegetable broth
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 pinch allspice
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 cup dry brown lentils, rinsed and sorted
Olive oil
Fresh cilantro leaves for topping, cleaned and torn (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan, saute onions, pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft.
2. Add all remaining ingredients, and stir. Cover and simmer until lentils are soft - about 90 minutes, give or take.
3. Serve and top with fresh cilantro, if desired.
I realized at that just-too-late moment that I forgot to pick up a green pepper in my shopping trip yesterday, so I subbed in carrots, which might make first impressions of this dish more of a "stew" than a "chili," but a rose by any other name, and all of that. If you find yourself in the same position, or if you're just feeling adventurous, I think the earthiness of some chopped mushrooms would also be delicious.

Overall this was a super yummy chili, and though I don't think that the pumpkin flavor was as pronounced as I might have hoped, I think it has a nice balance. To do it over again, though, I think I would skip the cilantro, since its brightness somewhat overpowered said pumpkin.

Between the tomato and the pumpkin, this might as well be called "antioxidant chili," but that doesn't sound so appetizing. And it is. So that would be unfortunate.

Quote of the Day: Only the knife knows what goes on in the heart of a pumpkin. ~ Simone Schwartz-Bart

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