I love this lentil quinoa chili. It is simple, delicious, and nutritious. The best part of chili is that it is so versatile. You can easily modify any chili recipe by adding favorite beans and veggies. Don’t be shy! You can leave it as is or add your own flare. Go ahead and think outside the box with this one.
Chili is a hearty dish, no matter what ingredients you use. I rarely add meat to my lentil quinoa chili because it is a hearty dish by itself. It isn’t necessary! I like to add a variety of beans as it adds texture to the dish. This chili recipe includes lentil beans, black beans, and white kidney beans. Beans are a great source of fiber and plant based protein. This lentil quinoa chili takes little time to prepare, is loaded with nutrients, and low on calories. Perfect!
I like to use green or brown lentils for this chili. There are three variations of lentils: red, green, and brown. The red lentils are the sweetest and nuttiest lentils and are commonly used in Indian dishes. They don’t hold their shape and texture and can get a bit mushy when cooked thoroughly. Because of this they are great in dishes that need to be thickened, such as my Butternut Squash Stew.
Brown lentils are great is soups and stews as they are more hardy than red lentils. They take about 20-30 minutes to cook and have a mild flavor. Green lentils take about 45 minutes to prepare and are the heartiest of the lentils. They hold their shape and texture and are great to use in lentil salads. I prefer brown or green lentils for my lentil quinoa chili because I love leftovers and I don’t want mushy lentils.
Quinoa is a great source of whole grains and is super easy to make. You will need to rinse the quinoa using a fine mesh strainer. There is a natural coating called saponin that gives quinoa a bitter or soapy flavor. Saponins are phytonutrients that have many health benefits including reducing cholesterol levels, decrease the risk of cancer, and boosts the immune system.
Rinsing the uncooked quinoa will remove some Saponin giving it s milder taste. To bring out more of a nutty flavor simply place the quinoa in a saute pan and toast the grains for a minute or so. This brings out the natural oils to enhance the flavor. I prefer chicken or mushroom broth because it adds an additional layer of flavor.
To prepare quinoa, bring the liquid to a boil, add quinoa, and cook for about 15 minutes on low heat. Fluff with a fork and enjoy! Easy as that. You can add left over quinoa to salads, oatmeal, or have as a side dish.
For the final touch, I add lime cilantro Greek yogurt. This adds a little zing and cools the heat from the chili. Greek yogurt contains less fat than sour cream and is tangy, which I love for this dish. Simply add chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, and you have the perfect topping for this spicy, healthy lentil quinoa chili.
Lentil Quinoa Chili
- 1 cup sweet onion diced
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium red bell pepper diced
- 1 medium orange bell pepper diced
- 1-2 jalapeno seeded and diced
- 3-4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 cup corn frozen or fresh
- 1 15 ounce can white kidney beans drained
- 1 15 ounce can black beans drained
- 1 cup dried red lentils rinsed
- 2 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth if you prefer
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup quinoa dried
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup cilantro fresh, coursely chopped
- 1/2 avocado sliced
Lime Cilantro Greek Yogurt
- 1 cup Greek Yogurt plain, such as Fage or Sigi's Yogurt
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp lime juice fresh squeezed
- Using a large pot, place on medium heat and add olive oil
- Add onions and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, bell pepper, and jalapenos. Cook about 3-5 minutes or until the peppers are tender.
- Add vegetable broth, corn, beans, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and smoked paprika. Allow mixture to come to a boil (adjust heat as needed) and add lentils.
- Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid, and allow lentil chili to cook for 25-30 minutes.
- While the chili is cooking, cook the quinoa per the instructions on the package. Usually it is one cup of quinoa to 2 cups of liquid. I like to use veggie broth. You can use water or chicken broth. If using water, season it with a little salt to flavor the quinoa. Cook per instructions and set aside while chili cooks. The quinoa and chili should finish around the same time.
- For the Greek Yogurt: Simply mix the yogurt, chopped cilantro, and lime.
- Scoop about 1/4-1/2 cup of quinoa into a bowl and spoon lentil chili over top. Add a dollop of lime cilantro yogurt. Enjoy!!