By Karin Calloway

Karin Calloway is a working mom living in Augusta, Ga., with multiple freelance jobs and a ton of dirty dishes.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili

If you’re looking for a way to incorporate more meatless meals into your weekly menus, this spicy Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili is hearty enough that the most avid meat eater won’t miss the meat.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients be off putting. Most of the ingredients are spices you probably have on hand. And, if you find the process of peeling and dicing a butternut squash too arduous, you can substitute sweet potatoes or yams, which are a bit easier to handle. Simmer up a pot of this fragrant and flavorful chili on a crisp autumn weekend or when your dinner guests include a vegetarian friend or two.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium-large Vidalia or other sweet onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder   
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 butternut squash, 2 1/2 - 3 pounds, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 14.5-ounce can vegetable broth or 2 cups water
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen corn niblets, defrosted
  • 1 15-ounces can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Monterey jack cheese, for garnish, optional
  • Sour cream, for garnish, optional
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and jalapeno and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, chili powder, brown sugar, cocoa powder, sea salt, cayenne pepper and cinnamon, and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add squash, tomatoes and broth or water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.

Add corn and black beans and simmer for 10-15 minutes more, until the squash is soft. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle each serving with the cheese and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Makes 6 servings.