Chili with Roasted Butternut Squash

As winter continues to chill us to the core, I feel sufficiently protected through my five layers of clothing to break out the food puns. Thus: chili. Because I’m chilly. 

I can hear your giggles from all the way over here. 

We had a perfectly relaxing weekend night at home a couple of weeks ago. It was almost idyllic, actually. We used our fireplace, and I heated up spiced apple cider on the stove with a couple of cinnamon sticks. We added some Fireball (cinnamon liquor) and Red Hots and watched Mops the fire with our slippers on. Ah, the good life. 

But, we cannot survive on cider alone, especially when the cider is spiked with Fireball. Mustering the motivation to get off the couch wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but dinner must be served.

Husband had been craving chili, I had been craving butternut soup, so a meeting in the middle was necessary. I lightened up the chili by using half ground turkey and half lean ground beef. I also take it easy on the beans; they don’t add enough flavor for me to get overly excited about. 

The flavor that is worthy of excitement is butternut squash. Roasting the squash until golden brown with nothing more than olive oil, salt, and pepper adds a fantastic flavor contrast to the familiar tangy tomato and earthy chili flavors. I also think that butternut adds an element of creaminess in the same way that avocado does. 

My flavor preference for rich, creamy taste is probably not unrelated to the fact that I once ate an entire can of coconut milk. That’s enough calories for several days. Of note: butternut is remarkably low in calories and high in fiber (as well as many other vitamins). 

Chili with Roasted Butternut Squash
Serves 6-8

You will need:
  • 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 medium-sized yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Salt, pepper, and cayenne – to taste
  • 1 pound each ground turkey and lean ground beef
  • 2 x 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 14 ounces chili beans or kidney beans
  • To serve (optional): cilantro, avocado, sour cream, grated sharp cheddar
  • Preheat oven to 375. 
  • Toss peeled, deseeded, and cubed butternut squash with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, until slightly browned. 
  • Meanwhile, add remaining two tablespoons olive oil to a large pot set on medium heat. Cook onions, garlic, and bell pepper for about six minutes, until onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. 
  • Stir spices into the onion mixture (chili, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper) and cook for about two minutes. 
  • Add ground turkey and beef, breaking up clumps with a large wooden spoon. Cook until the meats have browned, stirring frequently (approximately 10 minutes). 
  • Pour diced tomatoes (including liquid), tomato paste, and beans (including liquid) into the pot. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Add roasted butternut squash and cook for another five minutes. 
  • Serve hot, with toppings of your choice (my favorite: cilantro, avocado, and a dollop of Greek yogurt on a bed of quinoa).
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