A healthy and hearty chili that is getting national attention

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Brenda Stanley
Tales of the Dinner Belle

Belle's Zucchini Chili
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I will most likely be remembered for being the zucchini queen. It is a title I never aspired to, but it could be worse, I suppose.

When I put together my cookbook, “The Zucchini Houdini,” it was done tongue in cheek. I never expected it  to get out to anyone but my family and friends. I’m thrilled that it has now reached people all over the country. The recipes all include zucchini, but it is not a vegetarian or even a health-food type of cookbook.

Zucchini is inherently healthy, but the recipes in my cookbook were developed to be delicious -- period, which often means decadent. One of the recipes in the book has recently been featured in SHAPE magazine. So, yes, this one is healthy. However, it is also hearty, savory and satisfying. It is my Zucchini Chili and it is the perfect dish for a cold winter’s night.

It combines all of the ingredients you would expect in traditional chili, but with the fresh and tasty flavors of a fall harvest. You can spice it up or down depending on your family’s tastes. The Zucchini Queen gives this her royal seal of approval!

Zucchini Chili

  • 2 pounds extra-lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 cups onions, chopped
  • 6 cups zucchini, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • Two 15-ounce cans kidney beans
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Beer or water
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Brown ground beef and drain. Set aside. In a Dutch oven, sauté onions, zucchini and garlic in oil until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, beans and spices. Add water or beer to bring to desired consistency. Simmer 1 hour. Serve with chopped cilantro on top.

Brenda Stanley is the mother of five children, including two sets of twins, and a grandmother of three. She is a cookbook author and novelist. For more recipes and information, visit her website www.talesofthedinnerbelle.com.

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