Pumpkin Turkey Paleo Chili
This squeaky-clean Pumpkin Turkey Paleo Chili is a breeze to pull together and will feed an army! Great for cold nights and football-watching, this chili will be loved by the whole family.
After a BIG family meal (like Thanksgiving), my kitchen game plan goes into “what minimal effort can I get away with” mode. While I LOVE the large, intricate, 10-dish composed meals, afterwards, I need a little break from the effort. I start to lean heavily on reheating leftovers, using leftovers to make NEW meals (like a breakfast casserole), and big one-pot-but-will-feed-an-army dishes.
After the holiday dust settles and our large family is still together (likely with football on in the background), I have a habit of turning to the one meal that, at least in Texas, qualifies for its own food group: CHILI. There are hundreds (thousands?) of ways to make chili! It’s the ideal one-pot meal because all you need to do is brown a little meat, add whatever vegetables strike your fancy, and then load it down some signature chili spices. THIS chili recipe is special because, unlike bean-loaded chili that can bother some folks, the carbs are brought to us by the adorable baking pumpkin.
Here’s how this Paleo chili comes together (it’s easier than it looks and tastes AMAZING): first off, you must know that using fresh pumpkin is totally optional. YES you can use canned and YES that will eliminate half of the work. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk roasting pumpkin game plan. Let’s say you’re just wanting to whip up a healthy, dude-friendly (which is a category in my kitchen) meal for a late lunch or early dinner. I recommend that while you’re sipping a cup of coffee in the morning, go ahead and cut up a couple baking pumpkins. Note: they’re about as difficult to cut as an acorn squash – so don’t be intimidated!
Cut that pumpkin into wedges, scrape out the seeds, rub down with olive oil, and then pop those cuties in the oven to bake at 375 F for 45 minutes, or until they’re easily pierced with a fork. Set them aside and go about the rest of your morning!
About 30 minutes before mealtime, get out your biggest heavy-bottomed pot and start browning the onions and garlic. Once those are looking fragrant and delicious, add the ground turkey. Stir until the turkey is broken up and cooked through! THEN, it gets fun. Take out your baked pumpkin and add the gorgeous flesh to the pot! Note: this is where you’d add the just-as-acceptable cans of pumpkin puree. Stir the pumpkin into the meat mixture – the flesh will be soft enough to stir and start to melt into the rest of the ingredients. Add the tomato puree and spices, stir to combine, and bring up to a simmer. Taste test the Paleo chili it to see if it needs any more salt, season to your liking, then spoon it up into to bowls! I like mine topped with fresh green onion, cilantro, sometimes pickled jalapenos, and sour cream (real or Paleo friendly as found in my ‘Fed & Fit’ book).
This recipe makes a bunch of chili and gets even better as leftovers! It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and frozen for up to 5 months.
Pumpkin Turkey Paleo Chili
Yield: 12 to 15 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
- 2 small baking pumpkins or 4 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree
- 2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 pounds ground turkey (or leftover turkey)
- 48 ounces tomato puree (or sauce)
- 1/3 cup chili powder
- 1/4 cup ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt, additional to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, additional to taste
- 1 bunch green onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- sour cream (dairy-based or Paleo as found in my book), for garnish
- To prepare the pumpkin, cut each pumpkin into 8 wedges, scrape out seeds, and then rub with the olive oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 45 minutes, or until the flesh is easily pierced with a fork. Set aside to cook a little.
- Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium/high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Add the meat and break it up with a spoon. Cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through. Add the pumpkin flesh (or canned pumpkin) and stir to help break the flesh up. Add the tomato puree and spices, stir to combine, cover, and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste test and season to your liking.
- Serve with fresh green onion, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream, if you like!