Well this one was a surprise. A lot like a stew, this chili incorporates black beans and refried beans with tomatoes and salsa with the added texture and flavor from butternut squash, one of my favorite winter squashes. We've gotten several in our winter CSA box and I'm always looking for new ways to use them. Dave and I were both intrigued and really satisfied with how this turned out. The squash lends a bit of sweetness and which goes well with the slight kick from the chili powder and salsa, which provide the traditional Mexican chili flavors and heat. The liquid ends up creamy from the refried beans and the chunky vegetables and beans make it a traditional chili. This is definitely a delicious new way to enjoy butternut squash and a twist on your regular vegetarian chili recipe.
This is a recipe from Tastefully Simple that would typically incorporate a few of their products. Except I didn't use the products they suggested and did incorporate their chili powder (because it packs a good heat that we really like). I add cumin to the dish as well for a smoky undertone. I typically am not a fan of the cook before crock pot idea, but by sauteed onions provide a great depth of flavor, and toasting the seasoning in the skillet helps enhance their strength. A slight saute of the squash chunks coats them in the toasted seasoning and softens them up a bit so everything leaves the crock pot tender and delicious. Learn from my mistakes: 1) use a large skillet (not a medium) so you can fit the squash and stir easily; 2) use a 6 quart crock pot. As you'll see from my pictures, my tools were slightly undersized. (Oops.) Surprise yourself with this new take on chili and a new way to prep butternut squash.
Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 1 medium squash)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
16 ounces salsa with corn and black beans
14 ounces refried beans
15 ounces black beans
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
To prep squash, rinse and pierce repeatedly with a fork all over. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove from microwave and slice off top and bottom. Carefully peel away the skin (squash will be slightly hot and steamy), then cut down the middle and scoop out the seeds. Dice squash into 1/2 inch cubes. Set aside. Note: Microwaving the squash softens it, making it easier to peel and cut.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for 3-5 minutes until they begin to soften. Sprinkle chili powder and cumin over top, then add squash and cook, stirring to coat, for 2-4 minutes until gently softened.
Add vegetables to a 6 quart crock pot, then add salsa, refried beans, black beans, diced tomatoes and chicken broth and stir to combine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until squash is tender.
Divide into bowls, then top with sour cream and shredded cheese as desired. Serve with tortilla chips.
Makes 8 servings.
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