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Pumpkin Chili (Bean-Free)

By Tia Ohm

As parents, this time of year can be frustrating. The kids can’t help but wait in anticipation for the holiday that comes but once a year. The day they can eat as much candy (regardless of size or ingredient) as they want. Dress up as monsters or princesses and leave the house too excited to even think about eating a real meal. Let’s face it, they will have there hands on all types of candy really soon. I’m sure most of you know the value of having a meal ready before dusk, especially on this particular night. A one-pot type dish the kids can eat (not too quickly I hope) before running out the front door. Something hearty, healthy and full of good veggies. This is that meal. For the past couple of years, we have had chili on the stove ready to go for Halloween night. It’s so simple, so easy and so delicious. This year, we wanted to try a new recipe which includes the very much in season fruit, pumpkin (yes, pumpkins and squashes are considered a fruit). When we made this, we were delightfully surprised at the outcome. Not too sweet or spicy. It had a great balance of meat to vegetables and the lack of beans really brightened it up. Make a side of rice or quinoa; eat with some blue corn chips or as is. Topping with sour cream, avocado (or guacamole if you have it) and cilantro is a must. Add cheese if you’d like, plus a squeeze of fresh lime and it’s ready to go. Enjoy!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 long neck pumpkin
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 3 portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped
  • 5 large kale leaves, chopped (we included the stems)
  • 2 onions, skins removed and chopped
  • 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 organic, small vine tomatoes, or 2 large heirlooms
  • 32 oz beef broth
  • 2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • sea salt to taste
  • Drizzled olive oil and about 3 T butter for cooking

to top (optional):

  • sour cream
  • avocados (or guacamole)
  • shredded cheese (like Parmesan or cheddar)
  • chopped cilantro
  • squeeze of fresh lime

What to Do:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Cut your pumpkin in half and de-seed. Lay open side down on a baking tray with oil and cook in preheated oven for about 1 hour or until a fork is inserted easily.
  2. While pumpkin is cooking, heat a medium sized cast iron pan. Add ground beef and cook until browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. Take a large pot and heat on medium-low with about 3 tablespoons of butter. Add onions and cook for a few minutes or until slightly limp.
  4. Add chopped carrots and cook for a few more minutes or until slightly soft. Add garlic and mix.
  5. Throw in your broccoli and kale; cook a bit more before adding mushrooms and tomatoes and cook until all the veggies are still a bit crunchy; turn off and toss in the browned meat.
  6. Once you pumpkin has cooked completely, remove from oven and let cool a bit. Gut it and mash well. Turn the flame back on and add the pumpkin to your pot along with beef broth, basil, oregano, cumin, black pepper, chili powder, cayenne, and sea salt. Mix well. It will be very thick (this is the way you want it).
  7. Taste and add spices accordingly. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, with cover for about 1/2 hour or until you feel all the flavors have melded well and everything is cooked nicely.
  8. Serve over cooked quinoa or rice if desired and topped with a dollop of sour cream, chopped avocado, cilantro and lime

This made a large pot that fed at least 5 people for 2 meals. You can always freeze if you have extra.