Your New Favorite Chili Starts With Canned Butternut Squash Purée

Butternut squash in a comforting bowl of chili sounds seasonal, but it doesn't seem so compatible with chili's consistency and typical flavor profile. We know some like to start their chili off with a few sautéed vegetables such as carrots, onions, and celery, also known as a mirepoix, but these ingredients cook until translucent to solely release extra flavor without changing the texture of your chili very much. On the contrary, heartier veggies with a higher starch content can often thicken it up, and butternut squash not only accomplishes that but adds a boost of nutrients. 

Packed with magnesium, vitamins A, and C, butternut squash puree gives your delicious bowl of comfort a beneficial boost. Butternut squash is also a great source of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, which strengthens the immune system. However, to best absorb these nutrients and reap the full benefits of butternut squash, you'll need to consume them with a source of fat. Because chili usually contains natural fat from beef and cooking oil, it's the perfect dish to sneak butternut squash into. Better yet, instead of having to peel it, dice it, roast it, and smash it, buy a can of pureed butternut squash for one-step success.

It adds flavor, texture, and nutrients

Whether you prefer your chili with beef, ground turkey, or with vegetarian-friendly options like lentils or beans, a dose of seasonal squash is sure to take it up a notch. To add in butternut squash puree, simply fold it into simmering chili that is about 20 minutes away from being ready to eat then cover your pot with a lid, and let it do its thing for the remainder of the cooking time. Butternut squash adds a bit of fall flair to every bite, transforming the chili's color to a slightly orange hue for a picture-perfect dish while thickening the chili to a luscious, creamy texture.

Who knew that a can of butternut squash puree could work such wonders in chili? But you don't have to stop your experimentation there. You can also fold butternut squash puree into a pasta sauce, make it the base of your next pizza, spread it onto toast, fold it into the batter of your next batch of muffins or quick bread, or mix it into oatmeal. This simple ingredient that's usually relegated to Thanksgiving can add a creamy nutritious boost to your recipes any time of year.