I’m dreaming of warm California weather today. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re on day number ‘I’ve lost count’ of clouds & rain while my friends to the East are getting the snow storm of a lifetime. Back in November, my husband and I spent an amazing week touring around southern California, which of course included a day at Disneyland. Walking around the park there were a lot of great food choices but I took note of all the people eating hot chili in what we would consider summer weather. Everyone else was bundled in warm jackets and pants while we were sweating in t-shirts and shorts! We may also have been sweating from the 30,000 steps we took while running around the park trying to avoid the line-ups, but either way our definition of cold is clearly very different.
For me, chili is the ultimate winter food and is perfect for feeding a large group of people – say for an upcoming Super Bowl party? (or my bottomless-stomached husband). I like to make a big batch of chili when having friends over – once the chopping is done it becomes pretty hands-off as it cooks, allowing you to be with your guests rather than in the kitchen. Then your guests or family members can create their own chili bowls by customizing the toppings. You can also make chili a day or so in advance which is why this recipe has a permanent spot on my make-ahead dinner list.
I’ve been playing around with this recipe for some years now, mixing different types of beans and vegetables and have finally found the perfect combination. Kale is the surprising ingredient in this chili, but I love how it stands up well to the long cooking time and also I’m happy whenever I can get something green into a meal. If you want to make this chili vegetarian, which I often do, simply omit the ground turkey and add a second can of beans.
Hope you all are managing to stay warm. Me, I’ve got a belly full of this chili!
Black Bean Turkey Chili
Serves 6-8 people
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeños, seeds removed and finely diced
- 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced (4 cups or ~8 oz)
- 1 796ml can diced tomatoes, including the liquid
- 1 796ml can crushed tomatoes
- 1 medium zucchini, diced (2 cups)
- 2 cups of frozen corn kernels
- 1 540ml can of black beans, rinsed
- 1 bunch of kale, middle stem removed and leaves chopped.
- 2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Toppings: green onions, cilantro, grated cheese, avocado/guacamole, sour cream, diced fresh tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, hot sauce, tortilla chips, cornbread….let your imagination run wild!
- Heat oil in a 5-quart dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink, ~5-7 minutes.
- To the turkey add diced onions, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions begin to soften.
- Turn down the heat to medium and add the spices. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, cooking the spices in the oil will develop a deeper flavour and take away the raw spice taste.
- Next add the mushrooms, diced and crushed tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
- Add zucchini, black beans, corn, and kale. Cook for 15 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning to taste and continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. At this point you can cover the chili and turn heat to low and keep cooking for up to a few hours – the longer it cooks the more flavour you will develop.
They say moderation is the key to healthy eating. Well, I seem to lack moderation when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer months. To say that I bought too much fruit on our road trip this past weekend would be an understatement. But how could I pass up 20 pounds of BC peaches for $12, or fresh sunrise apples, tree ripened prune plums, or field tomatoes? Plus, with all the local garden produce available right now I’ve been up to my ears (literally) with fresh fruit and produce lately. But that’s a problem I don’t mind having, but I may have to invest in a second fridge…
One of my all time favourite salads is an Italian Caprese salad. Sometimes the simplest of foods can be the most delicious. I’ve taken the classic combination of fresh sliced tomatoes, basil, and bocconcini cheese (a type of small fresh mozzarella), and added juicy peaches and kale. Don’t worry, this isn’t any old kale salad; take a look at these beautiful heirloom tomatoes and peaches.
The kale is simply dressed in some lemon juice and oil, which when massaged into the kale helps to tenderize the otherwise tough leaves. This salad makes a perfect side dish alongside grilled meat or it’s hearty enough to eat on its own for lunch or dinner. I’ve got the rest of those 20lbs of peaches to deal with and I’m thinking that my favourite peach pie would make a perfect dessert for this weekend.
Kale and Peach Caprese Salad
1 large bunch of kale, thick stems removed and chopped into bite sized pieces (~6 cups)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large ripe peach, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup chopped basil, ~10 large leaves
150g (5 oz) bocconcini cheese, sliced or cubed depending on the size
drizzle of good quality balsamic vinegar (or balsamic reduction)
salt and pepper
- In a large salad bowl, combine chopped kale with lemon juice, oil, and a small amount of salt and pepper. Massage by hand until all the leaves are coated. Don’t worry about being gentle, the kale can handle it.
- Set the kale aside and prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Before serving, top the kale with the peaches, tomatoes, bocconcini cheese, basil, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
I love walking around a farmer’s market and seeing what’s fresh and in season. I always end up buying more produce than I can realistically use, but having too many vegetables is a challenge I am willing to accept! This simple salad was inspired by one of these occasions.
Raw kale isn’t for everyone. I’ve used different varieties of kale and found that I prefer the flatter black kale versus its curly relatives. This salad has the perfect balance of flavours: acidity from the dressing, sweetness from the corn and tomatoes, earthiness from the greens, and saltiness from the feta. If kale isn’t your cup of tea this salad works equally well with spinach or mixed greens.
One tip when making any kale salad is to massage the dressing into the kale leaves by hand. Raw kale tends to have a very tough texture and massaging the leaves help to soften and tenderize them. We enjoyed this salad right away but the leftovers were even better the next day for lunch.
Kale Salad with Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 4, recipe by Kirsten
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
2 teaspoons of maple syrup or honey
¼ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 large bunch of kale, washed and dried.
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 cobs of corn, cooked and kernels removed, approx 1 cup.
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup of crumbled feta
- Prepare dressing by whisking all ingredients together, or as I prefer place ingredients in a small jar and shake to combine.
- Chop or tear the kale into bite-sized pieces, removing hard inner stem, and place in a large serving bowl. Add half of the dressing and massage the leaves by hands, don’t worry about being too rough, the kale can take it.
- Add the tomatoes, corn, feta, basil and remaining dressing to the kale. Note: depending on the size of the bunch of kale, you may have more dressing than you need.
- Cover the salad and place in the fridge until ready to use.