In the New Year, it seems that all you hear about is how to “cleanse” yourself of all of the “bad” food you ate during the holidays. I hate reading these articles. All of this stuff is in your head! Your body does a great job of cleansing itself, I promise you, and eating a specific way is really all about making you feel better mentally, unless you’ve been subsisting on a diet of solely pizza and Oreos, and let’s be real, we’ve all been there. I posted my crispy pork belly recipe on Wednesday, and today I’m bringing you a dish that is about balance, not any sort of cleanse. This squash and sweet potato chili is hearty, healthy, and satisfying. It’s got tons of vitamins and will make you full without feeling sluggish, but you don’t have to worry about meeting some kind of New Year’s diet resolution because, come on people, this is a chili composed entirely of vegetables. Okay, I lied. There’s a little beer in here. But it’s chili, after all. You can absolutely use vegetable stock instead, but I’m sure that we all have one single, solitary beer hanging out in our fridge – let’s put it to good use, shall we? I used delicata squash in this chili, and if you’ve never heard of it, I highly recommend that you make yourself familiar. It’s sweet, nutty, and best of all, requires absolutely no peeling, due to its paper-thin skin. It’s pretty, too, with its green and yellow stripes. It tastes similar to an acorn squash, but maybe a bit less sweet, but I added some agave nectar to the chili to bring out its natural sugars and highlight its nuttiness. The sweet potatoes can be substitutes for yams or regular potatoes, but they have some of the highest nutritional value of any vegetable out there, so I used ‘em. Kramer, usually pretty staunchly opposed to an entirely vegetarian meal, loved this chili, and even ate it happily as leftovers (he actually suggested that we thaw out the portion I had frozen and eat it, which surprised and delighted me). I served mine over rice, but it’s great on its own or with some nice, crusty bread. See? Eating your vegetables doesn’t have to be so bad.
Just dice up whatever root vegetables you’re using, saute them with your shallots and garlic, add your tomatoes, beer, and herbs, and simmer for an hour or so, until everything is softened. It’s really that easy.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more as needed)
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 2 delicata small squash (or any other squash; I like delicata because you don’t have to peel it), diced into 1-inch cubes
- 2-3 small sweet potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes
- 6 cloves garilc, minced
- 1 28-ounce can tomatoes (I used whole tomatoes and broke them up with my spoon, but you can use diced or whatever you prefer)
- 1 12-ounce beer (preferably something with a bit of body, like an amber ale)
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- rice (for serving)
- In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add in your shallot, and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in your squash and sweet potatoes with a splash more olive oil, and cook until a bit browned, another 5 minutes or so. Add in your garlic and stir for 1 minute, then add in your tomatoes, beer, curry powder, agave, paprika, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmering (medium or medium-low, depending on your burner), cover, and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t burn to the bottom, for an hour or so, until the squash and potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve over rice, with some crusty bread, or on its own. This chili freezes well – just thaw it out in the fridge a day before you want to use it, reheat, and enjoy.