It’s that time of year when one day is so sunny and temperate that you’re convinced spring has arrived, until you wake up the next day to a snow-blanketed world brought by a Nor’easter storm. When young people visit the farm, we teach them that these changes in weather are cues to our bodies that give us insight (by way of food cravings) into choices that can be healing in cold weather months. We want everyone to be able to recognize those signals and have the skills and confidence to decide what to eat, depending on the season.
We keep this recipe for Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili on hand for days that we need to satisfy our craving for something warm. After the base of turkey, butternut squash, beans and warming spices of cumin, oregano and chili powder, you can adjust the optional items. Add heartiness with cheese, sour cream and avocado. Balance with spinach, cilantro, lime and scallions to add freshness and color. The end result? Brothy and light meets hearty and warm. If we can’t depend on the weather from one day to the next, at least we’ll be eating well!
Butternut Squash and Turkey Chili
Serves 6 – 8
1-2 cups brown rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey meat, white and dark combined
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 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
2 15-ounce cans of red kidney beans, drained
Optional additions for serving:
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup sour cream
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
- Prepare brown rice according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, 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.
- Add butternut squash and saute for another 3 minutes.
- Add the onions, garlic, pepper, celery, carrot, jalapeno pepper, oregano, bay leaves, chili powder and cumin. Stir to blend well. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
- Add the drained beans and frozen spinach (if using) and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes longer.
- Serve over brown rice in bowls with any combination of optional additions, if desired.