Ok, I can already feel your eyes rolling – pumpkin chili?? Yes, readers, pumpkin chili. The idea came to me at this past Thanksgiving when I was contemplating uses of pumpkin puree. I feel like it’s such a neglected and underrated ingredient. Everyone associates it with fall and is in such a rush to make it into a pie or trifle or throw it at someone… but I feel like pumpkin is way more versatile than people give it credit for. We all know it lends itself to spice, so why can’t that be exploited for savory applications? True, it is a bit sweet, but if you taste it right out of the can, it is actually quite neutral; there is natural sweetness, but not in the drastic way that we’ve grown accustomed to in pie applications. And isn’t it true that sweet and spicy often go hand in hand? Canned pumpkin puree is available all year round, so there really is no excuse why we can’t be using pumpkin for the sweet part of the equation. Besides, this is the starving artist. Mixing it up is what I do. Besides, chili is a cheap one pot meal – who can argue with that?
With ground turkey in the fridge and several cans of pumpkin puree leftover from Thanksgiving in the cabinet, I decided it was time. I gotta tell ya, despite all the talk, this was one of the few times I had reservations about trusting my instincts. Perhaps all the allergy medication I’ve been taking had finally seeped into my brain causing me to hallucinate about pumpkins and turkey and a pleasantly muscled bearded husband… Turns out, my instincts did not let me down. The delicate sweetness of the pumpkin mends beautifully with chili spices and thickens it, giving it a slow-cooked body without the hours of slow cooking. No, it is not conventional, but that’s what makes it so fun. If you give it a go I think you will be pleasantly surprised by this unexpected combination of flavors. I would not steer you wrong!
When fall comes around I plan to make this again with ground pork, apples, and sage… that will be super yummy. If you divide this recipe into 5 servings you land at about 330 calories. Healthy and unique – not too shabby. Any favorite/unique chili or soup out there?