Even in these British days of seasonal uncertainty, it is fair to say that winter is setting in. The heating has been on for the last few days and the walk up to nursery each day has seen us clad in hats and mittens. I love it when it gets a bit chilly. Not too cold, just cold enough for me to bring out my vast collection of coats from the cupboard. Did I tell you that coat collecting was a passion of mine? I'll leave that for another time.
I've gone overkill on the pumpkin to the extent of eating it every day for the last 2 weeks. Time for a change of vegetable. Root vegetables are in such abundance, I thought it was time to make a delicious spicy vegetarian dish to warm us through. A nice chilli con carne, that classic Mexican dish of meat and kidney beans. But with all of this veg, I thought it would be a good idea to play on the basic theme of a chilli but leave out the meat and pack it with vegetables.
This is one of those dishes that can be experimented with. It is so good for you, and the spices lend themselves to most vegetables, as long as you don't overcook certain ones. So if you still have a courgette, ensure it goes in right near the end to maintain a crunch. A good handful of strong cheddar scattered over the top makes this a chilli that even the most determined of meat eaters would love. A flavour packed healthy chilli for chilly people, just what the doctor ordered.
2 Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Carrots, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 Courgette, cubed
1 tin of Kidney Beans
A few handfuls of frozen peas
1 tin of tomatoes
4 handfuls of green lentils, soaked for 1 hour
500ml of vegetable stock,
1 tbps tomato purée
2 tsps cumin seeds
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp groundnut oil
Salt and pepper
1 - Heat up the oil in a large pan and add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes until soft, then add the garlic, oregano and spices and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.
2 - Add the vegetables except for the courgette, pureé and lentils and cook stirring for another 5 minutes.
3 - Add the tomatoes and cocoa powder and enough stock to make a reasonably loose stew. Bring to the boil and cook for 30 minutes.
4 - Add the courgette and cook for a further 5 minutes, then finally the peas and cook for 5 minutes. Test to see that the lentils are cooked.
5 - Taste for seasoning. Serve scattered with cheddar cheese and a dollop of creme fraiche or yoghurt.