Monday, February 2, 2015

Meal Plan Feb 1st-Feb 5th Part 1- Lentil and Eggplant Chili Mole

A new month, a new set of meal plans! I have really been enjoying this whole meal planning thing. I come to the supermarket prepared, get just what I need and go in record time. I've managed to save a lot of money on my groceries all while being well fed and satisfied. Why didn't I start this sooner??
As I mentioned in my previous post, this month (and most likely next as well) I'll be cooking with Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction.

This week's supermarket bill was 75 shekel, a bit higher than in previous weeks but still amazing for a week's worth of meals. I bought the usual peppers, cucumbers, and potatoes. I opted for canned corn instead of the unfortunate looking tomatoes, bought scallions for the cornbread, eggplant, crushed tomatoes for the chili and bought a new container of cumin. The cumin and scallions were the biggest expense! The avocados were not good at all, so I passed them up this week.

For the longest time, I've been wanting chili and cornbread. That and lasagna have been on my mind for ages. Isa has a recipe for Lentil and Eggplant Mole Chili that sounded unique and she pairs it with a Fresh Corn and Scallion Cornbread. I knew that that was exactly the way I was going to ring in February. Yay for comfort food!

When I got home, I immediately got to cooking so that the chili would be ready at a normal hour.
The recipe begins with sauteed onion and pepper- I opted to omit the oil from the recipe. Then you add a whole bunch of spices, including cinnamon!,  some cocoa, broth and other goodies. I used brown lentils as that's what I had around and I probably should have chopped the eggplant smaller. Oh well, lesson learned. Eventually, the eggplant did soften and fall apart as Isa said it would- just took a bit longer.

So how was it?
This chili was pretty good. The cocoa wasn't so detectable in the final dish but you could smell the cinnamon a mile away. You couldn't really taste the cinnamon per se, but it is definitely there in the background. In my mind though, chili is supposed to be thick and creamy and I found mine to be on the thin side, perhaps because it didn't have much starch in it. I think I also might have left out the agave nectar by mistake, even though it was on the counter. Nonetheless, I liked it and serving it alongside cornbread... oh my. Really hit the spot. I wonder if the chili will have thickened in the fridge or if the flavor will have developed even more. I gotta say, it's a good start to the month of February.

Lentil and Eggplant Chili Mole
adapted from Appetite for Reduction

1 small onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp mild chili powder, I used a lot less because mine is hot
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 cup lentils, green or brown, washed
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tsp agave nectar or maple syrup (I forgot to add this)

Preheat a large pot. Water or broth saute the onion and pepper until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and saute an additional couple of minutes. Add the chili, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon and salt. Add in the cocoa and half a cup of the vegetable broth and stir to dissolve the cocoa. Add the lentils, remaining broth, tomatoes and eggplant. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, watching it closely. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cook until the lentils and eggplant are soft, about forty minutes. Add in the agave nectar and taste for seasoning. Let sit for ten minutes before serving.

Stay tuned for the cornbread recipe!

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