Lentil and Red Kuri Chili

Chef Ray Garcia of santa Monica's FIG shares a lentil and winter squash chili
Craving a hearty winter chili? Try this delicious recipe for Lentil and Red Kuri Chili, and we promise you won't miss the meat!

Updated Jul 5, 2017 @ 1:16 pm

Burrowing down in the latest cold snap, and craving comfort food? The classic pasta, meat and potato belly-warmers are tasty…but can be tough on digestion. So we tapped a Clean Plates-approved chef, Ray Garcia of FIG in Santa Monica, California, for a winter meal that goes down easy—and features fresh, seasonal ingredients.

He came back to us with his Lentil and Red Kuri Chili recipe. “I wanted to make a hearty winter dish that was vegetarian but substantial enough to satisfy your chili craving,” explains Chef Ray. “My menu at FIG, like with most people’s diets, reflects a balanced way of eating. We have a number of big carnivore dishes like the tongue and bacon-wrapped bacon, but just as many dishes like quinoa and curry that satiate without using meat. This chili is one of those dishes.”

We think you’ll enjoy the red kuri squash, “a thick-skinned winter squash that looks kind of like a small pumpkin,” according to Chef Ray. “It is a great ingredient to use because it has a delicate sweetness that can enhance other ingredients or work well on its own.” And the nutrient-dense lentils pack a powerful punch—more than 30% of their calories come from protein, and they’re also loaded with cholesterol-lowering fiber.

Lentil and Red Kuri Chili by Chef Ray Garcia of FIG

1 large red kuri squash
1 onion, diced
4 Tbsp. diced jalapeño
3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
1 tsp. toasted cumin
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 c. vegetable stock
1 c. cooked brown lentils
½ c. baby kale
1 black twig apple (or other semi-tart apple), diced
¼ c. pomegranate seeds
2 Tbsp. toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
kosher salt and pepper (to taste)

Take half of the kuri squash and roast in oven at 350°F with salt and pepper for about 30 minutes. Peel and purée.
Peel and dice the other squash half, and blanch in boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Cool in ice water.
Sweat onion and jalapeño in oil, add cumin and chili powder. This takes about 5 minutes. Keep heat at medium to stop cumin from burning.
Add purée, then vegetable stock. Simmer 10 minutes.
Add lentils, squash pieces and chopped kale. Simmer for 20 minutes over low heat.
Season with kosher salt and pepper.
Mix apples and pomegranate seeds with toasted pumpkin seeds and top chili with this mix.