As Halloween approaches, I think about all of the things I have to do: are the Halloween costumes for the kids almost complete, did I buy enough candy and what am I baking for the school Halloween party? I also like to think about what my family and I are going to eat for dinner on Halloween night, because, let’s face it, I am always thinking about the food.
Dinner on Halloween night must be quick to put on the table, simple, make-ahead and somehow more tantalizing than Twix Bars or Banana Laffy Taffy. If I didn’t have a meal that’s ready to go, I would end up relying on an old standby, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I convince myself to eat Reese’s because – they have protein from the peanut butter and fat isn’t that bad for you anymore, right, surely a full meal, ha! I regret this soon after having a sugar crash at 9pm, still hungry and burnt out from crashing. After a long week of crafting, baking, trick-or-treating and trying to avoid sugar-rush meltdowns I just want something easy.
What I suggest to eat on All Hallows Eve is a nutritious and delicious turkey chili/stew of sorts that will warm your belly with good stuff if it’s chilly. And it’s not overwhelming if it’s bright and sunny out (let’s hope for bright and sunny, because, brrrr, it got cold overnight!) This meal can come together the day before Halloween, quick and easily. There is a long way to do this, with slow cooked beans, fresh leafy vegetables, slow braising and coaxing out of flavor. That’s what I do for my clients. But, I am a realist and sometimes you just want to have a good, hot, quick meal without jumping through all of those culinary hoops, right? Feel free to play around with this loose recipe. If you don’t eat meat, then omit the turkey and add more beans and leafy greens. If you don’t like chickpeas, substitute another bean. It’s just that simple.
Turkey Chickpea and Spinach “Chili”
the quick and easy way
Feeds 4-6 ghosts and goblins
This recipe easily doubles or triples
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
½ yellow, spanish or white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped (or more if you like more garlic)
1 pound ground dark meat turkey (or half white meat, half dark meat)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste (if you don’t have it, omit)
1 14 oz can organic chickpeas, drained (or cannellini beans or kidney beans)
1 14-16 oz bag frozen organic whole leaf spinach, defrosted (or kale or swiss chard)
1 28 oz can Fire-Roasted Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
Other options: cumin, chili powder, paprika, etc, not to exceed 1 teaspoon each. You can always add hot sauce to your own bowl at the end if you like it spicier.
(if you have time to deal with)
Toppings: Grated Cheddar Cheese, Scallions, Hot Sauce, Sour Cream, etc.
• Add olive oil to a large stockpot or saucepan. This is the pot for the entire chili, so plan accordingly for volume. Use a low-medium flame/heat.
• “Sweat” onions and garlic. Add onions and garlic to pot with oil and cook slowly til translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add a pinch of salt.
• Add turkey to the onions and garlic. Turn heat up to medium. Let turkey sit in pot for a few minutes and then move around with a wooden spoon. You want to make sure that there is no pink left in the turkey. It does not necessarily need to brown, just make sure it’s cooked all the way through. Season with salt and pepper. If using spices, add now, and move them throughout the turkey to evenly distribute.
• Place tomato paste in the pan, cook, for about 1-2 minutes, moving around the pot, coating the turkey. (omit this step if you don’t have tomato paste)
• Add chickpeas or beans of choice to pot. Add spinach.
• Add fire-roasted tomatoes to the pot. Stir so all ingredients are homogeneously mixed throughout and nothing is clumping.
• Cook on a low-medium heat for about 30-40 minutes. For the first 10 minutes, I cook with a lid on top and then I take it off for remaining time. Try not to let it boil, keep it low.
• You know it’s done when everything is cooked through and you taste it, it’s all come together. Season if necessary. I usually do.
• Let cool before it goes in the refrigerator if reserving for another time.
• Eat with toppings if desired.
• This also freezes very well.
• I haven’t tried this in a crockpot, but, if you want to, leave the greens out until the last hour. Defrost the frozen greens, squeeze out the excess liquid and place in crockpot to warm up with everything else.