When I asked Ben why he liked this chili, his response: “I like the taste!”
Me: What do you like about the taste, love?
Him: It’s very…pleasant.
Very pleasant. Just what every wife wants to hear when her husband compliments her cooking. I mean, are we talking “pleasant” as in “Yes, I met that older woman who lives down the street with her six cats… she smelled a bit like mothballs, but she was very pleasant.” Or, are we talking “pleasant” as in, “The new color on the wall isn’t my favorite, but it doesn’t exactly make me want to run out of the room with seizures… it’s pleasant.”
Pleasant is what you use to describe something that isn’t so awful that you can’t stand it, but doesn’t make you shake your pom-poms and do a jig in your kitchen. It’s a euphemism you use to make someone (or something) sound much better than you really think it is.
My chili is never just “pleasant.” I tried to make Ben guess the key spices in it, even giving him the letters each one started with (“three C’s, Ben! Come on!) as if his ability to pick out the unique flavors in this stew would make my labors worthwhile.
His answer: “Cauliflower?”
Sigh. Some battles you just can’t win. I must conquer this blast to my home-cook confidence.
Tonight, when he asked for leftover chili over pizza or quiche, and even without any chicken to top it off, I knew that I’d come up with a winner, even if I hadn’t been able to woo him with my spices the night before.
So here you have it, my friends. Ben’s “pleasant” chili that hopefully won’t remind you of the cat-lady or boring paint on your wall. A chili that’s easy to throw together in the crock pot in the morning and let it do its magic all day. Packed with veggie and fiber, this can be enjoyed all week long to fuel your busy days and “spicy” lives! It also has a few “secret ingredients” that really add an extra kick of spicy-sweetness (but you’ll have to look for yourself!). Enjoy it on a cold rainy Monday night with a dollop of greek yogurt or some shredded cheese, and even bring the leftovers to work with you the next day. Go ahead- make all your co-workers jealous. You have my permission.
Just do me a favor. When you’re heating it up in the microwave at work, don’t let anyone tell you that it smells “pleasant.”
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 carton (about 1 cup) sliced portobella mushrooms
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- ¾ cup frozen corn
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 2 cans diced tomatoes and their juice
- 32 oz carton low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tbsp cinnamon
- ½ tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ tsp each salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
- dried parsley, optional for topping
- greek yogurt or cheddar cheese, for topping
- In a skillet, heat oil on medium heat, then add onion and garlic. Cook until translucent, about 3 min. Add mushrooms and cook 2 min more until soft. Pour into bottom of crock pot sprayed with cooking spray. Add sweet potatoes, carrots, beans, corn, lentils, tomatoes, and broth.
- Stir together remaining spices in a small bowl and add to crock pot. Stir to combine.
- Cook on high heat 5-6 hours, or low heat 6-8, or until potatoes and carrots are soft.
- Top with dried parsley, greek yogurt or shredded cheese.