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

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.

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.

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.

50 Soups

Stay warm all season with dozens of soups from Food Network Magazine.

50 Pie Recipes

Get inspired with 50 delicious pie recipes from Food Network Magazine.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies — Most Popular Pin of the Week

It's not too early to indulge in fall flavors. Try Food Network's Most Popular Pin of the Week: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

5 Showstopping Carrot Cakes to Bake for Thanksgiving Dessert — Fall Fest

Crunchy carrots may be a go-to for snacking, but this in-season root vegetable brings a whole lot more to the table when it's brought into your baked goods.

Duff's Halloween Tricks and Treats

See his coolest, scariest recipes.

50 Stuffing Recipes

Everyone knows that stuffing is the best part of Thanksgiving. Choose the perfect one (or two) for your feast.