What a week.
I've been a ball of emotions and I imagine I will continue to be for sometime. At this moment in time, I am most upset and appalled about the stories of outright racism that has cropped up in our country over the last 36 hours. This is not OK. We should not be OK with this. No one should be threatened because of their ethnicity, the color of their skin, their religious beliefs, or for being LGBT. No one should be bullied or told they are less than a person because they aren't white and because they aren't born in this country. This breaks my heart.
I started this blog almost 5 years ago because I wanted a place to share recipes for delicious food with others. At the end of the day, food brings people together. I was raised in a family that valued the importance of sitting together and sharing a meal with one another. At the table we talked and laughed and ate and it was a way to feel connected at the end of each day. I think now more than ever, it's important to feel connected to one another. To understand the point of view of others and to try and figure out how to relate to one another. People will always have differing opinions from you but having constructive conversations, educating yourself, and finding common ground is the key. To me, food is common ground.
As we head into Thanksgiving and the December holidays, I'm going to use this space to include recipes that are about sharing (expect lots of cookie recipes). Now is the time to be kind and giving. To have an open mind and to make others feel included. To say Thank You (Thank You Veterans for all you do). Go out into your community, go to festivals, go to your place of worship (if you have one) and eat a meal with others. I'm kicking things off with chili because we could all use comfort food right now (Am I right?!). This is a riff on the classic beef chili but with lamb and lentils. The combination of lamb, lentils, and white beans results in an earthy and filling dish that warms your belly. I encourage you to make a pot this weekend, invite some people over, have a couple of beers, and enjoy the company of others.
Lamb, Lentil, and White Bean Chili
Recipe adapted from the NYTimes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound ground lamb
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced (or 2 small green bell peppers)
1 small bunch cilantro, cleaned
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 small jalapeños, seeded, if desired, and finely chopped
3 tablespoons chile powder, plus more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups cooked white beans (homemade or canned)
1 cup dried lentils
Juice of 1 lime, plus more for serving
Plain yogurt, preferably sheep’s milk or feta, for serving (or both if you are like me)
Lime wedges, for serving
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook, breaking up with a fork, until well browned, 5 minutes. Season with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Transfer meat to a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the onion and poblano peppers. Cook until the vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Finely chop 2 tablespoons of the cilantro stems and add to the pot. Stir in the garlic and jalapeño and cook 2 minutes. Add the chile powder, coriander and cumin, and cook 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it begins to turn brown.
Return the lamb to the pot. Stir in 5 cups water, the beans, lentils, lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes; add more water if the chili becomes too thick. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Ladle into bowls, and top with a dollop of yogurt (or some feta) and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves.