Flavorful Butternut Squash and Ground Meat Chili

By January 2, 2020May 3rd, 2024Archive

Week 3 of our family classes was all about adding flavor! We were so graciously donated ground beef from Grimaldi Farm in Ghent, NY.  Their grass-fed beef is available through their self-serve farm stand and in local markets.  And we sure did enjoy it! It added a delicious flavor and texture to our Butternut and Ground Meat Chili.  Ground beef can be a healthy addition to a meal as long as you are conscious about it. Choose local meats when possible, choose a lower fat percentage or skim the fat, and add lots of hearty vegetables to fill up on.  Many of our participants were surprised at how well the butternut squash added great texture to the recipe. Kat (mom) and Reny (age 8) mentioned that they do not typically care for squash, but really enjoyed it in this recipe.  The sweetness of the squash was nicely balanced with the spice of the chili. We used chili powder, cumin, bay leaf, and oregano to add flavor to our chili. This allows us to limit the amount of salt.  Students learned about the taste and health benefits of adding nutrient-rich herbs and spices that do not require adding excess salt and sugar.

The families also made cornbread and a variety of toppings for the chili.  The participants loved getting to top their chili with their favorite toppings, including jalapeños, cilantro, cheese, lime, and Greek yogurt.  Even the pickiest of our participants enjoyed this meal!  

Butternut Squash and Ground Meat Chili
Serves 6-8


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground meat, turkey, chicken or beef
1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 large red bell pepper, cored, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, small dice
1 jalapeno pepper, cored, deveined and finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried or fresh oregano
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cups canned diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth, fresh or canned
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 15-ounce can of red kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can of black beans, drained 

Optional additions for serving:

Brown rice or cornbread
2 cups shredded cheese
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
4-5 scallions, chopped
1 lime, sliced 8 ways for squeezing
2-3 avocados, sliced
½ lb spinach, fresh or frozen


  1. Heat the oil over high heat in a large heavy pot and add the turkey meat. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, chopping down and stirring with the side of a heavy kitchen spoon to break up any lumps. 
  2. Add butternut squash and saute for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, pepper, celery, carrot,  jalapeno pepper, oregano, bay leaves, chili powder, and cumin. Stir to blend well. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the drained beans and frozen spinach (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes longer. 
  6. Serve over brown rice or with cornbread in bowls with any combination of optional additions, if desired.