This hearty vegetarian chili with quinoa comes together easily by combining quinoa, black beans, lentils and red pepper in a rich tomato sauce with powerful spices. Make it as mild or as spicy as you want, and serve it with your favourite sides.
What goes in a vegetable chili
- Quinoa – hearty, filling and rich in fiber and protein.
- Black beans – adds protein.
- Lentils – creamy, soft and adds even more protein.
- Onion & garlic – adds to the flavour.
- Vegetable stock – flavourful liquid.
- Chopped tomatoes & passata – together makes a great tomato sauce.
- Smoked paprika – brings some smokiness.
- Cumin – always tastes great in Mexican style dishes.
- Coriander – classic chili flavour.
How to make vegetarian chili with quinoa
This really could not be easier. A good chili is truly the ultimate one pot easy comfort food. Here is what you do:
- Saute the onion and garlic in a large pot
- Rinse and drain the quinoa, and add it to the pot
- Add all the other ingredients
- Leave it to boil under a lid until the quinoa has cooked
- Optionally, add more seasoning to taste
.. and that’s it! While waiting for the chili to finish, you will have plenty of time to prepare your side dishes.
How to rinse and cook quinoa
If you have ever tasted quinoa and found it to be bitter, it is because the grains had not been properly rinsed before cooking. Rinse the grains under running water until the liquid that comes out is completely clear.
I like to use a fine mesh sieve to make it easier. You can also add the grains to a bowl, and let them sit in water for a few secons before draining it off, then repeat the process as many times as necessary.
This step is key to remove any bitterness, and improves the flavour substantially.
What can you serve with chili
I love to serve chili with light vegetables side dishes. I often serve mine with cooked vegetables like broccoli or roasted green beans. You can also serve chili with a simple salad, like tomato and cucumber salad or Mexican inspired black bean corn salad with coriander. I also recommend garnishing or serving the chili with avocado, fresh coriander, a squeeze of lime, sour cream or some guacamole.
Frequently asked questions
Can you freeze vegetarian chili? Yes! This freezes well up to 3 months.
How do you freeze this dish? I prefer to freeze this in portion sized containers. Allow the chili to cool completely before transfering it to airtight containers, and moving it to the fridge.
What else can you add to a vegetarian chili? Chili is one of those dishes where you can add anything you want. Chickpeas, white beans, diced sweet potatoes, sweetcorn, and vegetarian sausage are all options that would taste great. Add any of these ingredients at the same time as the others.
Why is this chili so thick? Quinoa absorbs most of the liquid while it cooks. Even if you were to add more liquid, the quinoa would still soak it up. A chili with quinoa will therefor always be quite thick.
More hearty vegetarian meals:
- Vegetable stew with dumplings – so, SO good, and a perfect way to use up leftover vegetables.
- Traditional minestrone soup recipe – excellent tomato based soup with large chunks of vegetables and pasta.
- Vegetarian cottage pie with lentils – savoury veggies and lentils covered with a lid of mashed potato.
- Russian cabbage soup by The Spruce Eats; tasty cabbage soup with vegetables.
Vegetarian chili with quinoa
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 200 g quinoa
- 1 (400 g) tin of black beans
- 1 (400 g) tin of cooked brown lentils
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 500 ml vegetable stock (or water + stock cubes)
- 1 (400 g) tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 (400 g) tin of tomato passata
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Saute the chopped onion and minced garlic in a large pot until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in water and drain, and add it to the pot. Stir to let the quinoa grains warm up slightly, about 3 minutes.
- Add all the other ingredients. Place the lid on top, then leave the chili to boil until the quinoa has cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
- Optionally, add more seasoning to taste. Add some chili powder if you prefer more spice.