I rarely have an idea of what I’m cooking before I start cooking it. My method usually involves opening the fridge and taking out all of the produce. Then, I open my spice cabinet and decide what part of the flavor world I feel like traveling to. Tonight, the smoked paprika pushed the other spices aside and said “use me.” And things got heated.
I had an acorn squash lying around that I had no idea what to do with. I’m usually roasting up root vegetables every night of the week this time of year, but I wasn’t feeling the typical rosemary and thyme profile. I had leftover sauce from making pizza last night, and some chickpeas in the pantry. Something nice and warm sounded good to offset the snowy 18 degree weather we had in Boston today. So, I surveyed my produce, leftovers, and spices and like a culinary equation, smoky chili stuffed acorn squash was born.
The sweet, caramelized, and smoky squash overflowing with spicy chili was the perfect guilt free comfort food. I topped it with some nutritional yeast, and sautéed up a few brussels sprouts. A perfectly warm, flavorful and nutritious meal packed with vitamins, fiber, protein and love. Comfort food doesn’t have to be synonymous with deep fried and void of nutrients. When you take a step back to see what you’re capable of, the healthy option will present itself. What is your go to healthy comfort food?
1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeds removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1 1/2 cups strained tomatoes, or tomato sauce
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
smoked paprika, cumin, and black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Place acorn squash halves on a parchment lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until soft.
2. While the squash is baking, heat a deep saute pan to medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, and cook for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
3. Add chopped garlic, and steam saute by pouring a few tablespoons of water into your pan to scrape up any brown bits. Cook onions and garlic for another minute.
4. Add mushrooms, celery and carrots. Cook about 5 minutes more until the mushrooms begin to soften and release their juices.
5. Add tomato sauce, cumin, smoked paprika, and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer until thoroughly heated, then mix in the chickpeas.
6. Once the squash is cooked through, remove from the oven and top with chili.
6. Garnish with nutritional yeast or your favorite cashew sour cream. Enjoy and be warm and happy!