Happy (belated) Thanksgiving to all my friends from the US. I hope you had a wonderful time spent with family, turkey + pie, and a heart filled with gratitude.
Maybe you are more in the mood for a light salad, detox smoothie or ideas for left-over turkey, but things have been a little crazy here this week. So all I have is this slow cooked chili (I know I just shared a slow cooker recipe) and my story of learning to love chili again.
My beloved chili, after a long year we finally meet again!
At about this time last year I was going through my worst bouts of morning sickness. It was so bad that I started to dislike food in general and had to go on a little hiatus from food blogging.
Certain foods I ate that were followed by being sick make me queasy to this day. One of those foods are beans – black beans and kidney beans specifically. Why, you ask? Well, I had made a big portion of my sweet potato chili with those 2 bean varieties. That same day I got the stomach flu. Paired with morning sickness it was pure misery… times 10!!
And to this day the sight of black and kidney beans brings me back to these awful days. So beans are the reason I have avoided making chili for the last year. Then I saw Min’s chili recipe using chickpeas and lentils and I knew chili was going to happen again!
I made changes to my slow cooker chili recipe to include chickpeas and lentils – and also some squash. There is a BIIIG arrangement of squashes decorating our dining table (thanks to our CSA box from the summer and my mom’s gardening skills).
And while I like the look of it, I know I have to start using them. After the spaghetti squash success, now it was the acorn squash’s turn.
Other squash varieties like kabocha, delicata, butternut squash or even pumpkin might work as well. Although some (like butternut squash) can be quite sweet when cooked. So keep that and your tolerance for sweetness in savory dishes in mind.
The chickpeas I use were canned but the lentils you can just throw in uncooked. The time in the slow cooker will soften them enough, while still leaving them with a hearty bite.
I like to use ground meat (beef usually) for chili. After trying it both ways, I realized that pre-browning the meat is a step you shouldn’t skip. It adds wonderful flavor and I prefer the meat in little chunks rather than completely blended in.
You can just combine all ingredients in the slow cooker base, but once the chili is cooking resist the urge to stir too much. Otherwise the squash cubes will turn into complete mush.
Serve the chili with your favorite toppings. I like mine with sour cream, green onions and a little grated cheese.
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef (or other ground meat)
- ½ (~ 1 pound) acorn squash, cut into ½ cubes
- 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup uncooked green lentils
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce
- 1 cup broth (any kind)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Heat oil in a pan and add chopped onions. Cook on medium until lightly browned, then add ground meat. Continue cooking until the meat has nicely browned.
- Add to the slow cooker base with all other ingredients. Stir to combine everything. Resist stirring while cooking (to keep the squash cubes whole).
- Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Serve with toppings like sour cream, green onions and cheese.
- Leftovers might dry out a little. Add water or broth as needed while reheating.