Fall is finally in the air in Phoenix. My body, perhaps registering bio rhythms from previous climates I’ve lived in where its not still 100 degrees in October, started craving hearty fall/winter food weeks ago. I just had to wait for the weather here in the desert to cooperate. It probably doesn’t help my food envy that I follow quite a few bloggers who are already experiencing cooler fall temperatures and posting yummy recipes.
For me, fall means soups, stews and chili. Honestly if it wasn’t like a bazillion degrees here in the summer I could really eat soup year round. However, I think I’m most excited about chili.
Inspired by other said fabulous food bloggers, I’m also trying to embrace more seasonal foods. So, I’m flipping my meal planning strategy around. My standard M.O. usually is “what recipe do I want to cook?” Then I go out and spend a fortune on out of seasonal produce which has been trucked and flown across continents. Although said produce usually looks pretty, its probably no longer really all that fresh. Plus, odds are always good that life will get in the way and I may not cook at all. Then said expensive, albeit pretty, produce will go bad in the fridge and I’ll be pissed at myself for wasting scads of money. Let’s face it, life sucks when you spend $1.50 on a red bell pepper and it turns gray and moldy in the produce drawer.
My new goal is to see what produce is in season and find great recipes to incorporate it. The benefits to cooking like this are many. First eating seasonal food should help my budget. Second, shopping locally for food that is in season is really much healthier for you. Now the pretty produce contains far less chemicals than growers normally have to use to keep it looking fresher longer.
With all that (and a whole lot more) in mind, I bring you a recipe that I cobbled together when I started craving fall food. I already had roasted butternut squash cut up and cubed in the freezer. I also had black beans pre-cooked and frozen too. I’m not sure where the inspiration for this pairing came from but once it was in my head, I was slightly obsessed with the combination. Since I wanted to use what I already had in the house, I morphed this chili recipe from several other I’ve seen and/or cooked. Once you add the bones of beans, veggies, diced chilis and tomatoes, chili kind of cooks itself.
I could have kept this a vegetarian recipe but since I’m not a vegetarian and I had this awesome chicken sausage (140 calories per link) in my fridge, I added two links for flavor. You can buy pre-cut and cubed butternut squash in the produce section of larger markets this time of year but its just as easy to roast it yourself.
- Two links chicken or turkey sausage, grilled or sauteed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 cup black beans (approximately one can, rinsed)
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (or one can, with juice)
- 1 4 oz can diced green chili
- 1 cup corn kernels (I throw mine in still frozen)
- 2 cups butternut squash, cooked and cubed
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large/deep skillet
- Add onion and garlic; saute over medium heat until the onions are translucent
- Add remaining ingredients, through corn, and stir
- Increase heat to medium high until mixture begins to boil
- Add cooked butternut squash and spices
- Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes or until flavors have melded and sauce thickens a bit
- Garnish with sour cream or crumbled cheese
If you’re using uncooked butternut squash, add it with the rest of the ingredients in step 3. I waited to add mine because it was already cooked and soft.
Nutritional information – values are approximate per serving
Calories 233, Total Fat 7.9 g, Cholesterol 37.5 mg, Sodium 402.8 mg, Potassium 430.0, Total Carbohydrate 29.1 g, Protein 13.5 g