chili peppers

That title is my clever attempt at a reference to Grease (Summer Nights? John & Olivia?). But in honor of these first days of summer, last night I made what I refer to as my “summer chili”–it’s lighter, brighter, and makes great use of zucchini and corn, although you can make this chili all year. And it’s fast and easy to make after some chopping and dicing and opening of cans. Yes, despite all the fresh ingredients available this time of year (or soon to be available), this chili still makes use of stuff that comes in cans. Even if homegrown tomatoes were available locally, I think the can (or box) variety works better in chili. And since the corn stalks around here are woefully short right now, I used sweet yellow corn from the can instead of fresh. Fresh corn is always better than canned as long as it’s fresh from a local farm. While this recipe uses ground turkey, I bet it would stand alone as a vegan/vegetarian chili with some improvisation. That said, this entire recipe is an improvisation–my favorite kind. I can give you an idea of amounts and measurements, but the beauty of chili is that you can create the perfect blend of flavors and heat just by using your own judgment. Enjoy!


Canola oil
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
1 small/medium red onion, chopped
1 small/medium yellow or white onion, chopped
1/2 medium zucchini, chopped
3 very small peppers (the mini variety)–red, yellow, and orange–chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
As much garlic as you like, chopped (I used 3 cloves)
Kosher salt and pepper (freshly ground or fine ground)
About 3 Tbs. taco seasoning
About 3 Tbs. chili powder, regular
About 1-2 Tbs. ancho, chipotle, or hot chili powder
About 1 Tbs. cumin
Dash of crushed red pepper
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
2 cans navy beans, drained
1 1/2-2 cups corn, fresh from the cob or from the can, drained
1 1/2 c. water
Basil, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese for serving

Heat a swirl of canola oil (or other oil) in a large saucepan or soup pot. Add the turkey, onions, zucchini, peppers, and garlic and stir and cook until the turkey is no longer pink and the vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper, taco seasoning, chili powder, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine. Add canned tomato products, beans, and corn. Add water to achieve the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and simmer for 30-45 minutes for best flavor. To serve, top with fresh chopped basil and/or cilantro, sour cream, and shredded cheese. A twist of lime might be nice, too.