This week for #QuarantineCooking with Oahu Fresh we’re cooking up one of my very favorite ingredients, Kabocha pumpkin. These lovely veggies (technically a fruit) are nutrient-dense, wonderfully flavorful, and make for a very interesting and delicious addition to this simple chili recipe. Watch the Kabocha Pumpkin Chili recipe here.
Kabocha is one of my favorite squashes to cook with because it’s wonderfully flavorful, brightly colored, and the skin is edible, which means it’s way easier to cook than butternut or acorn, which are best if peeled.
I love this recipe for a few reasons:
- This vegan chili recipe uses two types of legumes (lentils + adzuki beans) to make it a protein-rich power meal;
- This recipe features some non-traditional chili ingredients like kabocha and carrots – but you can swap in your favorites, like green pepper and corn, if you like. See notes below.
- It’s a simple one-pot meal, and makes a huge batch! Bulk cooking this way ensures you have yummy homemade food in your freezer for busy weeks.
Kabocha Chili Recipe
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1½ cups diced onion (any variety)
1 medium sized carrot, small diced
2 cups small-cubed Kabocha pumpkin (see notes below for Kabocha tips)
1, 15-ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 cup red lentils
½ cup chopped, sun-dried tomatoes
1 -2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon each dried oregano and ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper or red chili flakes (optional)
3 cups water or vegetable broth (more as needed)
1, 15-ounce can adzuki beans (about 1½ cups)
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- In a large stockpot, warm oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add onion, and cook for 10 minutes or until onions soften considerably. Add carrot and pumpkin, and cook for another 10 minutes, until carrots and onions lightly brown.
- Toss in canned tomatoes, lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, and all spices. Add about a cup of the water. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Check to ensure there is enough liquid to cover the lentils.
- Once lentils are soft, add in cooked beans, salt, and up to two more cups of water (using less for a thicker chili, more for a thinner chili). Taste, and season with more spices or salt and let cook for about 10 minutes to meld.
- Serve warm! Refrigerate any leftovers for up to about five days; this recipe can also be frozen.
A few notes about the ingredients:
Why I use Lentils: I’ve chosen to use lentils in my chili as they add an incredible thick texture, perfect for feeding omnivorous friends that might prefer a meat-based chili. Red lentils cook quicker than brown, but you can use either (just adjust the cooking time to allow the brown to cook fully, and add more water as needed for the extra cooking time). Learn more about why you should learn to love lentils.
True, adzuki beans are not common chili ingredients. These beans, common in Japanese desserts, and commonly cooked in Macrobiotic meals. These medium-sized dark red beans are prized for their soft texture and almost sweet flavor. They also cook up really softly into this chili and make a great textured final dish. Don’t have adzukis? No problem– use black beans, pinto beans, white beans or anything else that appeals to you. If you have the time, cook your beans from scratch ahead of time, but canned will do if you’re in a hurry!
And what about the Kabocha pumpkin? This is one of my favorite vegetables, and it’s perfect in this chili. Kabocha is a beautiful squash– bright orange on the inside and dark green on the outside (see picture above). One of the best things is its sweet, tender texture, but second best is that the skin is edible, so you don’t have to peel it! Simple wash down the skin with soap and water, slice carefully (!) with your sharpest knife, scoop out the seeds, and cube for the recipe. You can also use peeled butternut squash or any variety of sweet squash (red kuri, sugar pie pumpkin, etc). Here are some more recipes for kabocha to use the remaining squash: Roasted Kabocha Squash, Pumpkin Miso Soup, and Quinoa Risotto.
Check out some of my other Kabocha and pumpkin recipes: