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More vegetables! It’s become somewhat of a mantra for me. How do we eat better? More vegetables. How do I fix my bad eating habits? More vegetables. How to I help my kids learn to eat well all the time? More. Vegetables.
As far as mantras go, this is a pretty good one. Vegetables are filled with vitamins and nutrients, those essential things that help our bodies function at their best and fuel our busy, fun days.
And this chili is a good example of how more veggies can mean great things for meals. I mean, it prominently features spaghetti squash, which I adore, after all. A beanless chili is combined with roasted spaghetti sauce and corn, and then baked to finish for a filling, satisfying, delicious dinner. Served with a variety of toppings, this dinner is especially great because we can all customize it to our likings.
And, as always with my recipes, making this is simple.
You start by roasting a spaghetti squash. It takes a little less than an hour, but here’s the good news: You can do that ahead of time. With just 10 minutes of prep time — slicing it open, scooping out the seeds and sinews, brushing the flesh with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper — this is a hands-off part of the cooking process that’s super easy. Cook it in the morning while you’re getting ready, or the night before while you’re catching up on “This is Us.” And then keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Aside from the spaghetti squash, cooking is quick and easy. Just brown the meat, add the onions, drain the excess fat and then add the tomato puree, tomato paste and seasonings. The new Hunt’s Recipe Ready Tomato Paste Pouches, which come pre-measured with two tablespoons of paste in each one, make this so easy. But more on that in a minute. Add the spaghetti squash (all forked up into strands!) and corn, and then bake this for 10-15 minutes to finish it off.
The chili is thick and hearty. It’s so filling and since it’s packed with veggies, it’s also pretty nutritious too.
Back to the tomato paste for a second. This only calls for two tablespoons worth — but don’t worry, no need to open a whole can. Why not? Have you seen these Hunt’s Recipe Ready Pre-Measured Tomato Paste Pouches yet? They are perfect when you only need a few tablespoons of paste for a recipe, and don’t want to open a whole can. Plus, they can be used for so many things — from pasta sauces to chilis like this one. Why open a whole can when you only need a little paste?
I picked this box of six up at my local Walmart recently, and can’t wait to try it in all sorts of other recipes.
Once this thick, hearty chili is ready, serve it up with a variety of toppings. Cheese, tomatoes and avocados are some of our favorites.
Now the only questions remains is … how will you top yours?
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 cup chopped red onions
- 1 20- oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 Hunt's Recipe Ready Paste Pouch (2 tbsp tomato paste)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp ancho chile powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 cup frozen corn
- shredded cheddar cheese
- diced avocado
- chopped tomatoes
- red onions
- crushed tortilla chips
- black olives
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the sinews and seeds. Brush the flesh of the spaghetti squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45-50 minutes, until softened. Remove from the oven.
In a large, oven-safe skillet, brown the ground beef. Drain any excess oil from the pan. Add the red onions and saute for 5-6 minutes, until the onions are softened. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, chile powder and garlic powder until well-combined.
Meanwhile, use a fork to break apart the spaghetti squash into strands. Drain in a colander and then add to the chili mixture. Stir in the corn.
Place the pan in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, until bubbly at the edges.
Let cool slightly before serving with a selection of toppings.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.