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Makes 8 servings
Though a New Yorker now, I was born and raised in Ohio. And when in the great Buckeye state, you need to try chili the way so many Ohioans do … over spaghetti. But it’s not just any ordinary chili; it’s full of intriguing and earthy spices. My vegetarian version is richly spiced, full of veggies, and specifically designed to be paired with pasta, not eaten straight from a bowl. I’ve also included a touch of chocolate, even though there isn’t consensus if it’s “allowed” to be in a traditional Cincinnati chili recipe. So my dear hometown friends and family … I developed this “4-Way” recipe with you in mind. I hope you don’t mind that that I added my own personal culinary touches and made it a bit better for you!
Perhaps the most interesting of the ingredients I included is Concord grape juice which packs quite a nutritious punch, including plant nutrients like polyphenols, and provides a naturally-sweet accent, balancing the blend of spices so deliciously. It’s kind of like adding wine, only fruitier. I was inspired from a recent Concord grape harvest dinner that I attended. It’s now harvest time, by the way. So serve your bowl of this non-traditional Cincinnati-style chili with fresh Concord grapes on the side to make it a seasonally-inspired meal. And if you didn’t already know it, you can actually eat the skin and extra-crunchy seeds of these exceptionally sweet little purple fruits.
Enjoy. And … Go Bucks!
Calories Saved: 90
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 (8-ounce) Russet potato, unpeeled, scrubbed, finely diced
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 large red onions, finely diced, divided
5 large garlic cloves, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added or low sodium kidney beans, drained
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1/2 cup 100% Concord grape juice
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 recipe Cincinnati-Style Chili Spice Mixture (see below)
1 pound whole grain spaghetti
1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
- Heat the oil in a nonstick (PFOA-free) Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, potato, bell pepper, and three-fourths of the onions and sauté until mushrooms are wilted and onions are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the beans, tomato sauce, broth, grape juice, chocolate, and spice mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until flavors are fully developed, about 25 minutes. Adjust seasoning. Makes about 8 cups chili.
- Meanwhile, prepare the spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and transfer to individual bowls.
- Top with the chili, cheese, and remaining diced onions, and serve.
Per serving: 430 calories, 9g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 15mg cholesterol, 760mg sodium, 74g total carbohydrate, 15g dietary fiber, 9g sugars, 20g protein
cincinnati-style chili spice mixture
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper*
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
Stir together all ingredients. Use immediately or store in a sealed container or jar for later use.
*Use 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper if you prefer a milder chili.
The “Before” Recipe
Cincinnati Chili inspired cincinnati-style veggie chili.
Per serving: 520 calories, 26g total fat, 13g saturated fat, 0.5g trans fat, 90mg cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 39g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 4g sugars, 32g protein
- When forgoing meat, make sure to include a savory ingredient in its place, like mushrooms
- Consider adding Concord grape juice to chili to balance extra spiciness
- Go with whole grain spaghetti; it actually stands up better to heartier tastes than white pasta
- Sprinkle with extra sharp instead of mild Cheddar so you can use less of it while keeping full flavor satisfaction