I have a little Slow Cooker cooking magazine by Betty Crocker. One of the recipes in it that I’ve been wanting to try for some time is one for a Three Bean Chili (you can find Betty’s recipe at this link on their website).
This hearty-tasting meatless recipe calls for three types of beans and lentils.
Lentils? Aren’t lentils beans? I’d always thought they were. I mean, when I hunt them up in the store, they’re in the same section as the dried pinto, navy, lima, black, and other kinds of beans, so aren’t lentils beans, too? So I Googled and according to Wikipedia:
The lentil (Lens culinaris) (International Feed Number, 5-02-506) is an edible pulse. It is a bushy annual plant of the legume family, grown for its lens-shaped seeds. It is about 40 centimeters (16 in) tall and the seeds grow in pods, usually with two seeds in each.
Legume? A legume is a bean, isn’t it? And while I know what a pulse is from a biological point-of-view, I’d never heard of a pulse in culinary terms. So I followed Wikipedia’s link through to pulse:
A pulse (Latin “puls”, from Ancient Greek πόλτος poltos “porridge”), sometimes called a “grain legume”, is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food for humans and other animals. Included in the pulses are: dry beans like pinto beans, kidney beans and navy beans; dry peas; lentils; and others.
Just like words such as “bean” and “lentil”, the word “pulse” may refer to just the seed, or the entire plant.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking pulse is just another way to refer to a bean. 😉 I mean, I consider a pintos, kidney beans, and navy beans as beans, so I think I’ll just just continue thinking of lentils in the same way. As Shakespeare wrote:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title.
So from now on, I’m referring to it as Three +One Bean Chili. 😉
One of the beans Betty Crocker’s recipe calls for is chickpeas. While I like chickpeas, they are one of the few foods my beloved doesn’t like. Also, I thought the chickpeas might contrast in an unpleasant way in texture and taste with the black and kidney beans, so I used navy beans, instead. You could use any bean combination that sounds tasty to you and that you have on hand. I also made a few other changes to Betty’s recipe, making it my own.
Important Food Safety Tip: As Betty points out, “Tomatoes and tomato products keep dry beans and other legumes from softening even after hours of cooking. That’s why we wait until the beans and lentils are tender before adding the canned tomatoes and tomato sauce in this recipe.”
Draining and rinsing the beans not only reduces the sodium, but it also reduces the gas-causing impact that legumes and other healthy, fresh vegetables often have. Additionally, on those occasions when I do use a chili seasoning mix (such as for this recipe), I like to get Williams Chili Seasoning, as it has no added salt.
Dress each serving of Three + One Bean Chili as you would any other chili: grated cheese, oyster crackers or tortilla chips, diced onion, dollop of sour cream, sliced jalapeños — whatever makes you happy.
So the next time you’re wanting something hearty, yummy, and healthy but also easy, give Three + One Bean Chili a try. You just may find yourself belting out “One Is the Loneliest Number” in support of the pulse/legume/bean lentil. 😉
Three + One Bean Chili (Serves 7 – 8)
- 1 can (15-16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15-16 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (15-16 ounces) navy beans, rinsed and drained
- 8 ounces (a bit less than 1 1/4 cups) lentils, sorted and rinsed
- Vegetable bouillon (cube or spoonful) OR chicken bouillon
- 3 cups water
- 1 packet (1.25 ounces) chili seasoning mix
- Bay leaf (one or two)
- Additional seasonings to taste, as desired: Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder or minced garlic, paprika, red pepper flakes, onion powder or onion flakes, and splash of Worcestershire sauce (Vegetarians: leave out Worcestershire or use a substitute)
- Hearty splash of vinegar (suggest white or apple cider vinegar)
- Healthy squirt of ketchup
- 1 can (14 -15 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
- If desired, place a slow cooker liner in your Crock Pot to make cleanup easier. Place all STEP ONE ingredients into your slow cooker. Gently stir. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
- Stir in all STEP TWO ingredients and heat until simmered through (another 30 minutes to an hour). If a soupier chili is desired, add in an additional small can of tomato sauce.
- Dress each individual serving as you desire: grated cheese; oyster crackers, saltine crackers, or tortilla chips; diced onion; dollop of sour cream; sliced jalapeños — whatever makes you happy.
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.