Butternut squash and root vegetable chili makes a hearty vegetarian meal perfect for the cold fall and winter months.
The weather here in the Reno-Tahoe area made the quick transition from hot and sunny last week to windy and cloudy over the weekend. The leaves on the aspen trees have already begun turning color, there has been less daylight and cooler temperatures on my evening walks, pine needles are falling from the trees, and the general atmosphere seems quiet and relaxed.
This can only mean one thing: fall is fastly approaching. Le sigh…autumn…I’m holding on to the last bits of warm summer weather with all my might, but I look forward to beautiful, peaceful fall. Plus, nothing beats a hot bowl of chili, a warm sweater, and a glass of red wine.
One of my favorite parts about this time of year from a culinary standpoint is the abundance of available produce. Not only can we enjoy the last bits of vibrant summer fruits and veggies, but the hearty, carby, comfy fall squash are making their way into the produce section as well. Although the warm weather still calls for crisp and refreshing meals, I can’t help but pick up butternut and kabocha squash, along with heaps and heaps of sweet potatoes to put together carbolicious warmly-spiced meals.
Which brings me to my next point: This chili, locked and loaded with comforting vegetables like parsnips, sweet potato, butternut squash, and mushrooms (and even a pear!), is a cozy meal for those chilly evenings this time of year.
I added full-bodied red wine, as well as a touch of cinnamon and ground cocoa powder to add richness to the satisfying dish. Sound strange does it? You’ll just have to taste it to believe it!
Generally, I love cooking with wine as well as sipping on the wine I cook with during the preparation process…and of course when I sit down to enjoy the fruits of my labor, I indulge in a heavy pour. When all’s said and done, the house smells magnificent and my belly and heart are full of satisfaction from the relaxing meal.
With football season right around the corner, I’m envisioning this chili as the perfect healthy tailgating food. It’s super shareable, nice and filling, and will prevent your friends from becoming pantry pirates when they get hungry in the middle of the game. Simply whip up a batch of your favorite homemade cornbread, and you’ve got yourself the whole nine yards (<- get it? Nine yards? Football jokes? I try).
You can replace the kidney beans with pinto beans, black beans or chickpeas, and/or substitute the sweet potato and parsnip for regular potato and carrot. ALSO: why not try acorn squash or kabocha squash instead of (or in addition to) the butternut squash? Finally, if you aren’t trying to make this a vegan meal, you can use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth. Point is: you can make this delicious stew your own. Just be sure to add the wine!
Get those veggie carbs!
Warmly-Spiced Butternut Squash and Root Vegetable Chili with Pears
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 1 inch medium sweet potato peeled and chopped into ½- pieces
- 1 large parsnip peeled and chopped
- ½ inch small butternut squash peeled and chopped into ½- pieces (2 cups)
- 2 cups mushrooms chopped
- 3 cloves large garlic minced
- 1 large pear peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence*
- 2 teaspoons sea salt or to taste
- 1 ounce can kidney beans 14-
- 1 cup Noble Vines 337 Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2 cups vegetable broth
Add the olive oil, onion, sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash to a large pot or Dutch oven and heat to medium-high. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add mushrooms, garlic, pear, chili powder, cocoa powder, cinnamon, herbs de Provence, salt, and saute 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the kidney beans, wine and vegetable broth and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 10 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
Serve heaping portions of chili with rice and your favorite chili toppings
*or Italian seasoning