Friday, October 26, 2012

Slow Cooker: Pumpkin, Turkey, White Beans, and Greens Chili

Pumpkin chili and pumpkin beer (Project 365: 224/365)

The hubby's tomato allergy has been somewhat of a challenge to accommodate. Many of our favorite easy meals were tomato-based (which is evident throughout the blog), and there's no easy substitute.

As the weather started getting cooler, my mind turned to chili. But - my standard slow cooker chili recipes call for cans of diced and pureed tomatoes... clearly it was time to think a little differently. White chilis are good, but I wanted something that had that hearty, stick-to-your-ribs feeling like a tomato-based chili. Chilis based on a purée of reconstituted dried chile (with an E!) peppers provided the richness I was looking for, but making the purée was an additional time-consuming step that I simply don't always have the time or inclination to do.

However, a couple of weeks ago, I had made a very successful pumpkin lasagna (which was maybe a bit more involved than a typical Slacker Gourmet recipe, but oh boy was it delicious). While eating the leftovers, I realized that I felt just like I was eating a red-sauce lasagna, but without a tomato in sight. The pumpkin added an earthy slight sweetness, but did NOT taste like a pumpkin pie. I wondered if the same principle would apply to chili. 

I searched around and found this recipe for a pumpkin, turkey and white bean chili. However, based on the comments, I tweaked the amount of meat and spices, and added baby kale (though any leafy greens would be a very welcome addition). The verdict? YUM... and even better the next day! It's not spicy, but it's quite flavorful, and easy to kick up with some hot sauce at the table. And (shhh!), it's actually quite healthy, but you don't really think about that when you're inhaling it.  

Pumpkin chili

Pumpkin, Turkey, White Beans and Greens Chili
Makes 6+ servings
Adapted from Crock Pot Turkey White Bean Pumpkin Chili

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (I used the pre-minced fridge stuff)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 heaping teaspoons cumin
  • 1 heaping teaspoon oregano
  • a couple hefty shakes of cinnamon
  • 2 15oz cans small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15oz can plain pumpkin purée (make sure the ingredients are only pumpkin, no spices!) OR 1 12oz package of frozen pureed winter squash (the kind that comes in a frozen brick)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 4.5 oz can chopped green chiles 
  • 1/2 pound baby kale or other leafy greens, cut into bite sized pieces
  • olive oil for sautéing
  • salt to taste

Add all spices, beans, pumpkin purée, chicken broth (use only 1 1/2 cups of broth if using frozen squash - it's more liquid-y to begin with), chiles, and a good pinch of salt to the slow cooker and stir to mix together. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add ground turkey, onion and garlic to the skillet, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté until turkey is no longer pink and onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add to slow cooker and stir until coated with the pumpkin mixture. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.

About 45 minutes before serving, boost the heat to high (if it isn't there already). Add the baby kale (or other greens) in handfuls, stirring after each addition. They should wilt pretty quickly. Cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes. If the mixture looks watery, uncover and cook for another 15 minutes. If using spinach, you'll probably only need 15-20 minutes of additional cooking to wilt and soften it, but the hardier greens will need the full 45 minutes. 

Taste and correct seasoning (you'll likely need a bit more salt), and serve!

Print this recipe!

When I made this, I cooked the ground turkey separately from the onions and garlic, but with a sufficiently large skillet, I see no reason to keep them separated. My hubby suggested that some sautéed mushrooms would be a welcome addition, and I agree.

As for accompaniments - we ate it with shredded Monterey Jack cheese, Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt, and Tostitos Multigrain Scoops. The plain Greek yogurt made a fabulous stand-in for sour cream (seriously, I think it's even better!).

Why Scoops instead of plain tortilla chips? Because they're delicious, and who really needs a spoon when you can do this:

Scooping up some pumpkin chili

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