Cincinnati Chili

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Fall is officially here people!  Well not officially…that happens in one week.  But here on the East coast, the weather is cool, football has started and even some of the leaves have turned.  And of course let’s not forget the real sign Fall has arrived – the pumpkin spice latte has returned at Starbucks.  Woo Hoo!  The beginning to my all time favorite season has finally come.  I’m a happy, happy camper.

cincinnati chili, chili recipes, spaghetti squash recipes, vegetarian recipes In addition to pumpkin spice lattes and cool weather, I love the warm, cozy foods that come along with the cooler months.  Rich stews and soups, hearty pasta dishes, warming casseroles.  There’s nothing more comforting than something that’s been cooking all day on the stove.  Things that warm you from the inside out.  Yum!

cincinnati chili, chili recipes, spaghetti squash recipes, vegetarian recipes This past weekend was breezy and cool and just seemed to be calling for one of those warm comfort dishes.  I decided to go with a spin on the traditional Cincinnati Chili.  It’s basically a hearty chili drizzled down over a heaping mound of pasta!  SO good.  Well…in my head it sounded good.  I’ve never actually had Cincinnati Chili.  But I’ve heard of it.  Sounded pretty darn good.  And I’ve decided it’s probably one of the more ingenious foods out there.  Chili…over pasta?  Yes…quite amazing!

cincinnati chili, chili recipes, spaghetti squash recipes, vegetarian recipes

cincinnati chili, chili recipes, spaghetti squash recipes, vegetarian recipes I created a smoky chili, studded with bright green poblanos for a little heat.  One of the best chili’s I’ve made in a while, I think.  And instead of heaping mounds of pasta, I decided to be a little healthier and go with heaping mounds of spaghetti squash.  Looks like pasta. And when it’s smothered in this delicious chili, you’d never know the difference.  The only thing you’ll be thinking about is if there are enough for seconds (which there are by the way!).

Cincinnati Chili:

  • 1 medium sizes spaghetti squash, cut in half
  • 3 tbsp + 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 poblano chilis, seeded and diced
  • 1 package tempeh crumbled, or 1/2 pound of lean ground meat
  • 1 15.5 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 15.5 cans crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1-2 cups water – optional
  • 1-2 drops liquid smoked (optional)
  • 1/2 cup shredded smoked cheddar
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced


  1. Microwave each half of the spaghetti squash for 8-10 minuets or until it’s for tender.  Allow to cool completely.  Once completely cooled, use a fork to gently scrape the spaghetti like strands into a large bowl.  Toss with 1-2 tsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  2. In a large dutch oven, heat the 3 tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add in the onion and poblanos and cook for about 7 minutes until beginning to soften.  Then add the minced garlic, smoked paprika, chili powder, bay leaves and cumin.  All to cook for another 2 minutes until garlic and spices are fragrant.
  3. Add in both can of tomatoes.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the browned bits.
  4. Stir in crumbled tempeh or sausage, zucchini, beans and liquid smoke if using.  If you like a saucier chili, add in some of the water.  For a thicker, heartier chili leave out the water.
  5. Allow chili to simmer on medium-low for 45 minutes.
  6. To serve, mound 1 cup of the reserved spaghetti squash onto four plates.  Top with a few ladles of hot chili.  Sprinkle with cheese and sliced avocado.  Serve warm!

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