I was at Chloe's school for lunch last week and her teachers asked me about the recipe for the "bean stew" they noticed in Chloe's lunch box. They said it looked incredibly tasty, especially on such a cold day. That was all the prompting I needed to share with them my uber-excitement over this DIY Easy Winter Chili. As you can see from the picture, you can layer all of the ingredients in a mason jar (add a pretty label with the recipe and a note and it's a perfect holiday gift, by the way!) and just tuck it away until you are ready to make it. I explained to Chloe's teachers that all you had to do was dump the contents of the jar into a pot along with a can of chopped tomatoes and water and…voila! In just an hour you have chili!
No soaking the beans, they asked? Nope. No other ingredients? You got it, everything you need for this dish is in the jar (except for the can of tomatoes). I then surprised them by mentioning how it cooks in only one hour. How could that be, they asked when beans supposedly take so long to cook. Well, one of the random pieces knowledge you acquire attending culinary school is the difference between a bean and a legume (also known as a pulse). This chili is made with lentils which are considered a pulse (at this point in the conversation even the kids were listening in to understand more).
Some of the major beauties of using lentils in a recipe like this is that they're inexpensive, high in vegetarian protein, and -- as I just described -- cook in a fraction of the time as beans.
This mild chili is one of my new favorite recipes. And if you have friends who may despise cooking but still love to eat good wholesome food, this recipe in a jar is a culinary gift you can give them that will keep on giving!