The mushrooms and lentils give the chili a really wholesome, meaty texture, and the grated zucchini and carrot add vitamins to your meal without affecting the flavor or texture. I fry the mushrooms first in garlic to brown them before adding them to the chili. This really brings out their flavor and adds more depth to the recipe.
The one ingredient that really makes this dish is the smoked paprika. I always splash out for a good quality sweet smoked paprika because it makes your dishes taste a million times better than the supermarket brand equivalent. I opt for sweet paprika over a hot one so I can adjust the spice levels to my liking. This chili is mild, but more chili flakes can be added depending on your personal taste.
Two other ingredients I have added to this mushroom and lentil chili are brown sugar and vinegar. I always try and get the five main tastes into my food: Salty, Sweet, Bitter, Sour and Umami. This might sound complicated but it's really easy and will improve your cooking. For this chili, the sweetness comes from brown sugar, sour from red wine vinegar, salty from sea salt, bitter from tomatoes, and umami from mushrooms and lentils. The brown sugar also adds a wonderful shine to the sauce and the vinegar enhances the flavors of the other ingredients of the dish.
I have sourced everything for this recipe zero waste. The veg comes from a local greengrocer where the vegetables are sold loose, and everything else comes from a zero-waste shop where I refill existing containers. The only waste from this dish is the vegetable offcuts. To make this recipe completely zero waste, compost the scraps or save them in the freezer to make a vegetable broth. The yogurt I buy comes in a recyclable paperboard tub, so it is not zero waste. This is why I used hummus as an alternative. I make my own or buy it from a deli.
Mushroom Lentil Chili With Potato Wedges (Vegan, Low Waste)
- 10 Mushrooms, sliced
- 3 Garlic Cloves, chopped
- 5 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 4 Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 Zucchini, grated
- 1 Carrot, grated
- 3 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Chili Flakes
- 150g Dried Brown Lentils
- 500ml Vegetable Stock
- 2 teaspoons Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 Sweet Potato
- 1 Baking Potato
- 2 teaspoons Dried Mixed Herbs
- 3 teaspoons Sea Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
- 4 tablespoons Plant-based natural yogurt or hummus, optional
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
2. Add the mushrooms and garlic with 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper, fry for 10 minutes until browned.
3. Remove the mushrooms from the saucepan and put to one side.
4. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same saucepan.
5. Add the chopped tomatoes, courgette, carrot, paprika, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, 1 teaspoon of sea salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper.
6. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes until the vegetables are soft and reduced.
7. Preheat the oven to 220°C and put an empty baking tray into the oven.
8. Add the lentils, mushrooms, stock, sugar and vinegar to the vegetables. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
9. Wash the potato and sweet potato. Cut into wedges.
10. Coat the wedges in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, salt, pepper and dried herbs.
11. Once the oven has pre-heated. Carefully add the wedges to the hot baking tray in a single layer.
12. Bake for 35–40 minutes. Until the potatoes are crispy and cooked through.
13. Remove the lid from the chili and cook for a further 15-20 minutes. The lentils should be soft and the liquid be glossy and thick.
14. Serve the lentils and wedges with a sprinkle of chili flakes and a dollop of yogurt.
Also by Katharine: Chickpea Roasted Pepper Stew with Parsley Rice
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Photo: Katharine Hopkins