Welcome to my first post sharing ideas for family-friendly, budget-friendly, meatless meals. I shared why we do meatless Fridays earlier this week. If you weren’t already doing meatless Fridays, maybe you will now? Let me know! It was a slow, sometimes hard change for us. In fact, even last week Fence and I both “failed” but offered up something else instead.
Before I get into our first recipe, I have a reader question! Theresa said, “Abstaining from meat on Fridays is not too penitential for us since half of our dinners tend to be meatless anyway. I’ll be interested to see if any contributors have other ideas to keep Friday meals sacrificial when cutting out meat just doesn’t feel so hard.” So, readers, do you have some tips for Theresa and all of us? What to do when eating meatless isn’t a big sacrifice for your family? What if you eat vegetarian always? What do you do to help Friday keep that penitential aspect?
One of our family’s favorite meatless meals (as well as convenience meals!) is lentil chili. We buy it in bulk at Costco. Maybe you’ve seen it? The “madras lentils” are soooo yummy. We have eaten it plain like regular chili, topped it with cheese and avocado, eaten it with chips, and over rice. It is soooo good, and so convenient in the microwavable pouches. Granted, the convenience comes at a price, which is nearly $10/box. And…I’d prefer not to microwave meals when there is a better option. (Ok, I do sometimes pout the chili out of the pouch into a pot on the stove and heat it that way). Last week, I made my own lentil chili. It’s going to need a few tweaks to get to the flavor we really enjoy, but this is very versatile and you can do more or less seasonings to suit your family. I have also seen recipes which add curry.
- 1 T oil
- 1/3 c onion, chopped
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups water
- 1 c lentils, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans red beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 1 can petite diced tomatoes (optional)
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1-2 tsp cumin
- 1/8 tsp tumeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp corriander
- 1 1/2-2 T chili powder, to taste
- In a large pot, heat oil. Add onion and cook until slightly tender. Add garlic and cook until you can smell it, about one minute.
- Add water, lentils, spices, tomato paste and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes, covered or until lentils are tender. Adding more water might be necessary in order to cook the lentils until tender. I added water gradually as I tested for the tenderness of the lentils. When lentils have reached your desired doneness, add the red beans and diced tomatoes (if using) and heat.
- Some recipes add milk before serving, about 1 cup.
- Top with cheese, avocado, or any desired toppings. Can be served over rice, potatoes, on chips, or any way you like to eat chili!
- This makes about 4-5 servings.