Black Bean and Winter Squash Chili

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Black bean and winter squash chili.

I love cooking with small winter squash varieties like Acorn Squash and Carnival Squash. They cook much faster than larger pumpkins or butternut squash and have a delicious sweet, mellow flavor that works well in many different kinds of recipes.
One such recipe is this delicious Black Bean and Winter Squash Chili which is just perfect for a chilly Winter day! It utilizes vegetables and staple ingredients like bacon, black beans and canned tomatoes which are readily available year round.In this recipe, roasted winter squash is added to thicken the chili – so you don’t need to slow cook it for hours. In fact, this chili will be delicious and ready to eat in just about an hour’s cooking time! It’s nutritious and low in fat – you can even chose to make it vegetarian by omitting the pork and using vegetable broth, although I personally like the richness that using slab bacon adds to to it

Why Eat Winter Squash?

A few things to know about wonderful winter vegetable

  1. Winter Squash inexpensive and stores well for the winter – plus it’s colorful in your kitchen before you cook it!
  2. Winter squash is low in calories and high in complex carbohydrates and fiber.
  3. Winter squash is rich in nutrients including Vitamins A, C, potassium, folate, omega 3 fatty acids and tryptophan. It can also be a good source of iron and beta carotene – look for darker skinned squash for higher beta carotene content.
  4. Winter squash is easy to cook in many different ways! Bake it in the oven, cube it and add it to soups and stews, or slice it thin and make roasted squash “chips” for a healthy alternative to french fries!

Black Bean and Winter Squash Chili

My recipe
Black Bean and Winter Squash Chili

There are many ways you can adjust and adapt this recipe to your tastes – and what ingredients you have on hand. If you have the time to soak and cook them, you can use dried black beans for a fresher taste. For a quick weeknight meal, however, canned black beans will do just fine. I use mild dried guajillo chilies, which add a wonderful smoky taste to the soup without too much heat. You can experiment with different varieties of dried chilies depending on what’s available and how hot you like your chili.Dried spice amounts are very adjustable and up to your tastes/the freshness of your spices. Please feel free to play with amounts and adjust as necessary – tasting throughout the cooking process is the key to a successful chili.

The bacon I used for this recipe was a maple smoked variety cured right from one of our own farm’s pigs. The maple smoking worked great with the roasted squash, and the fat from our pigs is actually quite healthy as they are all pasture-raised. If you can find a source for quality pastured pork from a small farm, please do try it! The flavor difference is phenomenal, it’s healthier for you and you’ll be supporting more ethical small-scale farming practices.

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:
  • Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 19 oz can black beans – drained and rinsed
  • 750 g (26 oz) canned chopped tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup diced slab bacon
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 1 cup mixed sweet bell peppers – chopped
  • 1 small winter squash (Acorn or Carnival)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 dried guajillo chilis
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of cane sugar

Instructions

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, cut open winter squash and scoop out seeds. Coat a baking dish with olive oil, and also rub the oil over the inside and outside of the halved squash. Sprinkle cinnamon, allspice and cane sugar over the open cavity of the squash and place in baking dish cut side down. Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, until squash begins to feel soft to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle.

While squash is cooking, prepare dried chilis by tearing off stem, removing seeds, and adding to boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from water and chop once softened.Soaking the dried chilis.

Chop other ingredients and prepare them for cooking in a non-stick stock pot. Place diced bacon in the pot and cook over medium-high heat, until the bacon begins to cook and release fat. Add onions and cook until turning translucent, approximately 2 minutes. (Note: if omitting the bacon saute the onion in olive oil instead.)Sauteeing the onions and bacon.

Add sweet peppers and guajillo peppers to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes.Adding the peppers

Add tomatoes, stock, beans, cilantro, cumin, oregano, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a steady simmer, and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.Adding tomatoes, stock.

Once roasted squash is cool, scoop out flesh and add to the chili. Cook until the chili has thickened, at least 10 minutes. Taste and again adjust seasonings.roasted squash

Chili...almost ready.
Serve in bowl with the toppings of your choice on the side sour cream, chopped cilantro, shredded cheese, freshly made salsa or tortilla chips.
Black bean and winter squash chili.

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