Spicy Black Bean Chili with Lentil Rice

Have you ever had a bunch of ingredients that were about to go bad and thought, “Hey, I better make something before I waste a ton of food?”

It’s kind of like the TV show “Chopped,” except the consequences are more real, since they will extend longer than the show’s 20 minutes and actually apply to you and your dinner plans.

I came home from work earlier this week to find a slightly-mushy-but-salvageable green bell pepper in my fridge, along with several overripe and bruised tomatoes on the counter. Our stash of onions was overflowing (Note to self: communicate with sister before going grocery shopping), and I was craving something hearty with beans.

If these clues don’t point to chili, then I don’t know what does.

Brown rice with lentils topped with chili, cheddar cheese and plain Greek yogurt with scallions (PS: I painted this plate 🙂 )

I’ve made chili before (would I really be a vegetarian if I hadn’t?), but green pepper isn’t something that I usually include. Actually, green pepper isn’t something I usually purchase, but I guess that’s what happens when you buy a 3-pack of peppers and one of them is green lol. (Clarification: There’s nothing nutritionally “bad” about green peppers, I just find them bitter).

After glancing at the cans in my pantry and noticing that I had black beans and fire-roasted tomatoes, I knew that chili would be dinner. And that’s how this Spicy Black Bean Chili was born 🙂 .

Though this dish sounds like an accident, it was a worthwhile accident that I would totally prepare again. I wouldn’t be sharing the recipe otherwise 🙂 .

I had this dish post-bike-ride and really enjoyed it. The lentils and beans contain protein, the brown rice contributes carbohydrates, and the tomatoes and green bell pepper add veggies, making this a hearty and healthy meal!

I chose to pair this chili with brown rice and lentils, one of my super easy meal-prep staples. This chili would also taste great over whole wheat pasta, farro, quinoa or cornbread.

According to my sister Leora, this is a “fancy dinner.”  I laughed when she told me that because it was SO easy to prepare and was made entirely from ingredients sitting in the house – several of which would have been thrown out had I waited just a few hours longer!

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to reducing my food waste (I’m open to suggestions!), but it felt good to take a step in the right direction.

Whether accidental or purposeful, I hope you enjoy this chili as much as I did 🙂 .

<3 Dena

Brown rice with lentils topped with chili, cheddar cheese and plain Greek yogurt with scallions

Spicy Black Bean Chili With Lentil Rice

This Spicy Black Bean Chili with Lentil Rice makes for a hearty, wholesome, vegetarian dinner.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Course: Grain, Main Course, Protein
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Keyword: spicy black bean chili with lentil rice
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Dena Don



  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil (or other high-heat oil), for sautéing
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small tomato, chopped (¾ cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Trader Joe’s Onion Salt spice blend
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • One 14.5-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • One 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinse

Lentil Rice

  • High-heat oil, for sautéing
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • ½ cup Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Organic Brown Basmati Rice
  • ½ cup green lentils



  • Heat oil over medium flame in a large saucepan. Sauté onion and garlic until soft using a wooden spoon. Add green pepper and tomato. Continue sautéing until tomato juice runs. Season with salt, pepper, basil, onion salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Mix.
  • Pour in fire roasted tomatoes. Mix. Add black beans. Mix.
  • Cover pot. Bring to boil; lower to simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over lentil rice (recipe below). Top with plain Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese, scallions and/or avocado, if desired.

Lentil Rice

  • Heat oil over medium-high flame in a medium saucepan. Sauté onion until golden. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add water. Add brown rice and green lentils. Mix. Bring to boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until all water is gone.(Note: If not using quick-cook brown rice, cook rice and lentils separately for best results).


Did you make this recipe? Please rate and comment below! I’d love to hear how it went for you!

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