This year, Coseppi Kitchen answered the call to duty when the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA) asked for volunteers to represent the organization at the 24th Annual Lone Star Vegetarian Chili Cook-Off. With the help of some AFBA volunteers including Jessica of Bake Me Away (see her write-up here), we made five gallons of Black Bean, Lentil, and Eggplant Chili and served hundreds of Cook-Off attendees! After braving the wind, some knife nicks, and a few steam burns, we went on to win the “All Veg” Category and the greatest honor of all, People’s Choice!
Thanks goes out to everyone who helped including Jessica, Gabe Hasser, Taylor’s parents Mike and Shelly who came down from Fort Worth to help, and the folks who lent us the equipment – Stephen Palmer, Clayton Ernst, and Molly Frisinger. We also need to thank Johnson’s Backyard Garden for the delicious eggplant and cilantro that carried us through to victory!
Black Bean, Lentil, and Eggplant Chili
- ½ pound black beans, pre-soaked overnight
- 2 dried chili pasilla peppers, stemmed
- 4 large cloves garlic, diced and divided
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 dried chili pasilla peppers
- 3 dried chili cascabel peppers
- 2 dried chipotle peppers
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 poblano pepper, diced
- 1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
- ½ 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ½ 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 quart water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable Better-than-Bouillon
- ½ cup dry green lentils
- Juice of 2 key limes
- Salt to taste
- Boil the black beans with 2 stemmed chili pasilla peppers, 3 bay leaves, and half of the diced garlic until soft, about 1 1/2 hours.
- While the beans are cooking, finely dice (or use a food processor) the remaining chiles pasillas, chiles cascabeles, and chipotle peppers.
- When black beans are tender, remove from heat.
- Saute the onion, diced dried chilies, and ground cumin in olive oil over medium-high heat until the onions are soft and the cumin is fragrant, about 10 minutes.
- Add the remaining diced garlic and the diced poblano pepper, and saute for 5 minutes more.
- Add the eggplant and a pinch of salt, then continue to saute until it is tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, water, Better-than-Bouillon, and lentils. Bring to boil then lower heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are almost cooked, about 30 minutes.
- Add the cooked black beans and let the chili simmer until the lentils are soft and the flavors have melded, about 30 minutes more. The longer you let the chili simmer, the thicker it will become, so you can adjust based on your preferences.
- Season with salt to taste and add the key lime juice.
- Serve with fresh chopped cilantro, diced jalapenos (for extra heat), or your preferred chili topping.