Zucchini Chili — The Weekender

By: Marisa McClellan
Related To:

Chili is one of my fall and winter weeknight staples. It’s one of those things that cooks up easily, is fairly forgiving and can expand endlessly. Whenever I pull out my chili pot, I make it a point to cook up a batch big enough to last for at least two nights and a couple lunches.

My standard approach involves lots of vegetables, a pound of ground turkey, plenty of spices and two or three cans of beans (I tend to use black and pinto beans, but anything I have in the pantry is fair game).

After years of eating bowl after bowl of my improvisational chili, however, my husband sweetly requested that I try to vary my chili game a little. And so, I started auditioning new recipes.

As I’ve searched, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really looking for authenticity (my regular recipe includes Swiss chard). Instead, I want a one-pot dish that has a lot of flavor, features vegetables and beans, and if it includes meat, uses a relatively small amount.

So far, the recipe that best hits all the marks for me is Rachael Ray’s Zucchini Chili. It has great flavor (love the base of roasted and pureed poblano peppers), doesn’t require a lot of equipment and gets better with time. It’s also useful this time of year, since summer squash plants continue to work away. Truly, it’s just perfect for The Weekender.

Before you start cooking, read these tips:

— As you can see from the photos, I used a yellow summer squash in place of the zucchini the recipe called for. It was what I had on hand and it worked beautifully. Feel free to make similar swaps.

— If you use a beer that is a bit bitter, stir in a tablespoon or two of sugar for balance. If you want to avoid added sugar, mince a carrot and add it to the browning onions.

— My only quibble with this recipe is that as written, it doesn’t yield my desired level of leftovers. If you expect a goodly amount of leftovers from this pot of chili, double the recipe.

— And one last thing: Don’t skip the green rice that Rachael suggests serving with the chili. It's good with the chili and the leftovers are great underneath a fried egg.

Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round, is now available.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Best 5 Chili Recipes for Fall

Check out our top five chili recipes below to find the best of what beans, veggies and spices can make.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup — Meatless Monday

Serve a comforting, in-season supper of Roasted Butternut Squash Soup or Alton's Lentil Soup from Food Network for Meatless Monday this week.

On the Road Eats: A Is for Autumn Apples

Apples are coming down from the trees and onto the plate this season. Enjoy this fruit's warm flavors at some of Food Network's favorite spots around the country.

5 Healthy Pie Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Table

When it comes to Thanksgiving, there's one kind of dessert that's bound to star in your spread: pie. And we mean lots of it.

Weeknight Chili — Meatless Monday

Get Food Network Kitchens' recipe for 30-minute Weeknight Two-Bean Chili, a family-friendly dinner that's ideal for Meatless Monday.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili — Meatless Monday

Make a batch of Food Network Magazine's one-pot Spicy Vegetarian Chili for Meatless Monday dinner and serve with Paula Deen's old-fashioned Biscuits.

Scary Spicy Chili — Meatless Monday

Robin Miller’s veggie-friendly chili is full of protein-packed beans, fresh bell pepper and heaping spoonfuls of hot sauce, chili powder and pickled jalapeno.

Best 5 Chili Recipes

Check out Food Network's top-five chili recipes to find warming recipes from The Pioneer Woman, Bobby Flay, Ina Garten and more Food Network chefs.