Meatless Monday: Autumn Pumpkin Chili

It seems like a while since I’ve posted a Meatless Monday recipe. Between my Grandpa’s passing, the election, health issues, and our vacation…I haven’t really been doing a lot of cooking lately!

Most of my dinners have been anything I can put in the oven, forget about for 20 minutes, then chow down on. Usually this means roasted brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or the seasonal favorite: squash. (OK and sometimes we put tomato sauce, salami, and cheese on a large slice of sourdough and call it “pizza”…don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!)

I’ve made my parents and boyfriend try spaghetti squash a couple of times, roasted a butternut squash for a delicious soup, and I finally picked up an acorn squash that is currently sitting on my counter waiting to be made into another soup…or maybe just roasted and stuffed with quinoa. The possibilities are endless!

It was really rainy this weekend. And for a girl who has lived most of her life in California, that means it simply rained for about a day straight. So in a search for comfort food that would get my stomach stretched for the marathon-style 24-hours of Thanksgiving approaching us, but not cause premature Thanksgiving weight gain, I made this healthy, hearty chili.

I had ground turkey in my freezer, but I decided to be festive and added roasted butternut squash instead. This would be great with acorn squash, roasted pumpkin, sweet potato, or whatever fall gourd or tuber you find in your grocery store. With plenty of protein from the beans alone, I figured I’d cut out the fat and add more vitamins, nutrients, and fiber by replacing it with squash.

Though I typically love a spicy chili, this recipe has a lot of sweetness from the bell peppers and butternut squash that gives it this interesting sweet-and-savory feel. Of course, me being me, I added cayenne pepper, and if you want it to be even spicier, I’ve added notes on what you can substitute.

This chili has a couple of secret ingredients: instead of tomato paste, I added pumpkin puree (of course always staying in theme!). Next, no chili for me is complete without beer. I really wanted to try making this chili with a seasonal pumpkin ale like Jen does in this recipe, but I couldn’t rationalize buying a whole 6 pack for a single cup of beer, so I used what usually do – a light wheat beer (this time a Hefeweizen). Any kind of seasonal beer would add a delicious touch to this already autumnal chili.

So try it and let me know what you think. And don’t forget the beer 😉

Autumn Chili
makes about five 2-cup servings

3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed (about 1/2 of a small to medium squash)
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
cayenne pepper, if desired
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup beer (I used Hefeweizen, but I would’ve LOVED to try a pumpkin ale!)
1/2 cup frozen corn
oil, for cooking
salt and pepper

Ingredient notes: Any kind of fall squash would work. Any combination of beans would work. I prefer a lighter beer for my chili, but as long as you stay away from hoppy, bitter beer, you’re fine. Bell peppers make this chili more sweet than spicy; replace one with a jalapeno or chipotle pepper for some kick.

Preheat oven to 400F. Carefully peel and cube your squash and toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, stirring once. You want the squash to cook a little bit, but it doesn’t have to be completely done yet, as it will cook more in the chili.

While the squash is roasting, prepare your peppers, onion, and garlic. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and saute peppers and onion until soft, about 5 minutes. When the squash is ready, add garlic to the pot and stir, cooking another minute. Stir in roasted squash cubes. {Note: I roasted my squash before to cut down on the cooking time on the stove. You can add uncooked squash at this point, just increase the simmer time so the cubes get cooked.} Add seasonings of your choice: I went heavy on the chile powder, then added paprika, cumin, oregano, and cayenne…plus more salt and pepper.

Stir till everything is coated in the spices, then add canned ingredients: beans and crushed tomatoes. Stir till combined, then add pumpkin puree and beer and stir some more. Let simmer for at least 5-10 minutes {longer if you didn’t roast the squash}. A few minutes before serving, stir in the frozen corn.

The longer you let the chili simmer, the more delicious it will get. I like a thick, hearty chili, so I prefer not to add more beer/water to thin it out.

Serve hot with a side of cornbread!

21 thoughts on “Meatless Monday: Autumn Pumpkin Chili

  1. Terry says:

    I’m not a huge fan of beer, but I don’t hate it. Do you think this recipe will still taste okay to me and any other not-really-sorta fans of beer?

  2. Terry says:

    I’m not a huge fan of beer, but I don’t hate it. Do you think this recipe will still taste okay to me and any other not-really-sorta fans of beer?

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