Super-warming pumpkin chili with polenta topping

Super-warming pumpkin chili with polenta topping

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Here is the recipe from my second column Vegan 411 column for HelloGiggles: Life With the Ominvores, which you can read in full here.  The process of testing this recipe ended up with me getting slightly addicted to polenta in all its many glorious forms, so I expect there might be a few more on the way. With two really good friends who are also gluten free, it's a perfect alternative for topping-off a casserole with something other than mash. Oh, and as with the majority of vegetables and fruit featured on Guac, the pumpkin, onions, carrots and cavolo nero (pictured above) in this recipe are all from the amazing vegetable bag scheme I am signed up with, called Growing Communities. The first pumpkin of autumn always gets me pretty excited, so it was great to put it to good use!

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Makes enough for 6

Ingredients

For the chili:

Vegetable oil

1 large white onion, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped small

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 small pumpkin, seeds hollowed out and peeled, then cut in to chunky bitesize cubes

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp paprika

1 tsp chipotle powder

½ tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper to season

5-6 cups of vegetable stock

1 cup of red lentils, rinsed

1 29 oz. tin chopped tomatoes (about 800g)

1 29 oz. tin black eyed beans, drained (abou 800g)

4 tomatoes, sliced (optional)

Handful of chopped coriander

For the polenta cornbread:

1.6 cups of polenta

2 cups water

1 cup almond milk

1.0 cup of vegan margarine

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp paprika

Good pinch of salt

To make the chili, grab a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat the oil over a medium heat, before adding in the onion to sauté . After about three minutes, add the garlic, carrots and pumpkin, and mix in with the onion so the flavours can start to develop. Then add the chili powder, paprika, chipotle powder, cumin and bay leaf, along with some salt and pepper. Turn the heat up a little and cook until you start to smell all of the spices in the pan.

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Now add the vegetable stock, lentils and tomatoes, and turn up the heat again until the chili starts to boil. Once it is bubbling away, turn down the heat to a low simmer, and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring every once in a while to make sure the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

Once the lentils are cooked, add the beans, sliced tomatoes and coriander. The tomatoes are optional but will add more texture and freshness to the chili against the lentils and beans.

Heat your oven to 375°F /190°C, and while the chili cooks for another ten minutes or so, you can start to make the polenta cornbread.

In a saucepan, mix together the polenta, water and almond milk on a medium heat. I find using a whisk is the easiest way to keep an eye on the texture, as you want to make sure it doesn’t burn. After about 5-10 minutes the polenta should thicken up so that when you stir the mixture, you can see the bottom of the pan. Once you’ve reached this point, turn off the heat and stir in the vegan margarine, lemon juice, paprika and salt.

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You’re now ready to assemble the chili. Take it off the heat and pour into a large, oven proof dish. Level out the mixture, then top with spoonfuls of the polenta cornbread, smoothing it out so that it covers all the chili.

Cook in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the polenta starts to brown a little at the edges and the chili starts to bubble through the topping. This is great eaten straight away and can be saved for lunches and leftovers too.

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