Vegetarian Butternut Squash Chipotle Chile with Avocado
Morita chiles are red, fully mature Chipotles. This gives them a unique, medium – hot smokey flavor which is popular in many Southwestern dishes. These can be added to sauces (including Mole) to add smokey flavor and maintain the red color of the sauces. These peppers are about 2-4 inches in length, 1 inch in width, and have a deep brick reddish brown color. The word Chipotle translated to smoked chile. Consider the Chipotle a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the hottest). Scoville heat units 7,000-25,000.
Use Morita in enchilada sauces, chili, stews, barbecue ribs, and corn bread. Their smoky quality combines well with poultry, meats and fall squash.
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped (or equivalent jarred roasted red peppers)
1 small butternut squash (less than 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
ground sea salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1+ diced chipotle chile, rehydrated in hot water first
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14-ounces canned diced tomatoes, including the liquid**
4 cups cooked black beans or 2 cans, rinsed and drained
cilantro (optional, for garnish)
3 corn tortillas for crispy tortilla strips***
In a 4 to 6 quart Dutch oven or stockpot, sautée the chopped vegetables (onion, bell pepper, butternut squash, garlic) in one to two tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need to stir the ingredients every few minutes so they can cook evenly.
Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Cover for about one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste test for spice level and add more chipotle if desired.
By the time your chili is done, the butternut squash should be nice and tender and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency that we all know and love.
Make the crispy tortilla strips: stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long. Heat a small pan over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and toss in the tortilla slices. Sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 7 minutes. Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel. Serve the chili in individual bowls, topped with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of diced avocado. I added a little sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional). You might want to serve this along with some chipotle hot sauce (Tobasco makes one) for the spice addicts like myself.
Serves 3 to 4. This chili is very hearty, but feel free to add another can of tomatoes or more vegetable broth if you want to thin it out a bit. Double the recipe for a crowd.
*Chipotle in adobo sauce is usually found in the Mexican section of the grocery store. I never need a whole can at once, so I use what I need and then transfer the rest to a small freezer bag, pressing it flat so that I can pull off as much as I need later.
**Find BPA-free cans of diced tomatoes if possible.
***Look for corn tortillas that contain minimally processed ingredients. There should only be about 5 ingredients listed, and wheat shouldn’t be one of them.