Extra virgin olive oil
•Small yellow onion, chopped
•Garlic clove, chopped fine
•2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
•14 ounce jar tomato puree
•1 cup (195 grams) French lentils
•1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
•1 ½ teaspoons paprika
•1 teaspoon ground cumin
•5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only (discard stems)
•Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
•2 tablespoons Vinaigrette Dressing (recipe here)
Add a swirl of oil to a heavy bottomed 4-quart pan or pot. Heat over medium flame until shimmering.
Add the onions, and sauté until golden and slightly tender. Add the garlic, tomato paste, and tomato puree. Give it a good stir. Stir in the lentils, salt, paprika, cumin, thyme, and half the cilantro. Add 1 cup of water, and bring to a boil over medium-high.
Reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about an hour, adding more water (1/4 cup at a time), as needed. The cooking time and amount of water will vary depending on the age of the lentils (i.e. how much they need to be hydrated).
To serve, stir the vinaigrette into the pot. Ladle the chili into deep bowls. Garnish with remaining cilantro, and enjoy!
Be sure to pick through your lentils, and discard any pebbles or damaged ones. I like using French lentils because they retain their shape, and have a heartier flavor than green and red lentils. Stirring in a little red wine vinaigrette at the end pulls all the flavors together, and adds a layer of brightness to the chili. You can swap in balsamic vinegar if you like.