Mediterranean style healthy chili with ground turkey, beans and a homemade chili seasoning. My friends call it award winning because it’s the best chili recipe they’ve had!
This is a healthy chili recipe with lean ground turkey breast, red kidney beans (feel free to use whichever beans you like best) and lots of vegetables. Hearing the word chili, immediately makes me think of Mexican cuisine but since many of the ingredients are also very popular in the Mediterranean area, I decided to give it a Mediterranean spin.
Adding some sliced Kalamata olives and parsley in the pot, as well as some Greek yogurt (or even feta) as topping makes this turkey chili absolutely delicious. Every time I’m having friends over for dinner, they request this recipe. It is hearty, wholesome and comforting and wins everyone’s heart. That’s probably the reason why my friends jokingly call it award winning chili.
As for the seasoning, though a store-bought chili powder will do, I prefer to make a homemade seasoning like the one I give you in the recipe box at the end of this post.
Whenever I make recipes like this (including my mom’s Bolognese sauce for pasta) I double the quantities and freeze the half for later use. It always makes me happy to know that a bag of delicious healthy turkey chili waits for me in the freezer and that I won’t have to spend any time in the kitchen cooking it from scratch. All I have to do is cook some rice or warm some homemade pita bread and I have myself the perfect, easy weeknight dinner.
But what is chili?
According to mvtimes.com chili is a thick sauce of meat and chilies (peppers). For a lot of people meat is essential while for others beans should never exist in it. Many recipes include tomatoes, but there also a lot of chili recipes without.
Is Turkey Chili good for you? And is it healthier than beef chili?
Yes it is! Most dietary guidelines recommend reducing the amount of dark red meat since over-consumption is linked with heart and cardiovascular problems. White lean meat like chicken and turkey breast is considered to be healthier and also has fewer calories, so it’s perfect for anyone who’s watching his weight. In addition, turkey is a great source of selenium, an important antioxidant mineral that plays a key role in the metabolism. To sum up, this turkey chili is high in protein, very low in fat and has plenty of vegetables added so it’s definitely good for you!
Turkey chili ingredients
The ingredients for this Mediterranean style chili recipe may seem a lot but they offer depth and complexity that the lean turkey meat needs in order to become delicious. These ingredients are:
- Ground turkey breast
- olive oil
- chili seasoning (can be homemade or store bought but I suggest homemade)
- Onion (can be fresh or onion powder)
- garlic clove (can be fresh or onion powder)
- Chicken broth (or water with 1 chicken bouillon)
- Pureed tomatoes
- Maple syrup or honey
- Green pepper
- Red pepper
- Red kidney beans
- Sweet corn
- Kalamata olives
The chili seasoning
If you can use a homemade chili seasoning mix, then I suggest the following spices and herbs:
- Sweet paprika
- Smoked paprika (can probably replace this with a few drops of liquid smoke but I’ve never dried it)
- Dried oregano (thyme will also work)
- Freshly grated black pepper
- If you want your chili spicy 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or some Tabasco sauce will do
- A pinch of grated cinnamon or cloves will add warmth
A lot of spices have stronger or weaker flavor depending the origin, their age and the storage conditions. Taste your chili halfway through cooking and add more seasoning if needed.
How to make Turkey chili from scratch
- Saute the ground turkey over high heat until well browned
- Add the chili powder, the onion, and the garlic and stir well
- Add the tomatoes, the broth, the peppers, the beans and the olives and simmer until thickened
- At the end, add the corn and the parsley and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- Serve with rice, tortillas, homemade pita bread or Italian-style mashed potatoes
What is the best secret ingredient for chili?
Okay, this is not an ingredient, but a long and slow simmer will blend all the tastes and aromas together and will result in a perfectly delicious chili. If I had to chose just one ingredient that should never be omitted then that would be smoked paprika. I’m not the type that especially loves smokey foods but in this certain recipe smoked paprika gives character and transforms the dish giving it a subtle smoky flavor you will adore.
I don’t mention corn starch in the ingredients because if you slowly cook the chili for a long time it will thicken naturally and all the flavors will blend and mature. However, if you’re in a hurry or if you used a bit more liquid than necessary, mix two tablespoons of corn starch in 2-3 tablespoons of cold water and add it to the pot. It will help to thicken the chili and will give it a luscious, rich consistency.
Honey or maple syrup will add some sweetness, which will definitely complement the spiciness and the smokiness of the dish.
How do you thicken turkey chili?
The best way to thicken chili is to let it simmer over low heat until some of the liquid is evaporated. If you want it extra thick, all you have to do is mix 2 tablespoons of corn starch with a bit of cold water and add this mixture to the chili while it is still simmering. Stir well until the corn starch coagulates and forms a thick sauce.
This turkey chili is delicious as is, served plain with some bread or over Basmati or Jasmin rice. Toppings are optional for me, but my usual go-tos are:
- Cheese: of course, shredded cheese is a must when having chili! Some mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, pepperjack, or Monterey Jack, feta!
- Greek Yogurt is healthier than sour cream so that’s my go to!
- Green onions or chives
- Parsley or cilantro
- Tortillas or tortilla chips. Since this is a Mediterranean style chili, homemade pita bread or pita chips is always a great option!
- Avocado and lime juice
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- freshly grated black pepper
- 1 pound (450 grams) ground turkey breast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup (245 grams) chicken broth – or water with 1 chicken bouillon mixed in it
- 1 can (14 oz / 400 grams) tomatoes, pureed
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
- 1/2 green pepper, chopped
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata olives
- 1 can (14 oz / 400 grams) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup frozen sweet corn
- 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
- chopped green onions, Greek strained yogurt, red pepper flakes
Saute the ground turkey: Heat a large pan over high heat and add the olive oil and the ground turkey. Let the meat brown well without stirring (this will develop some flavor). Once the meat is dark brown, stir and break any lumps. Cook until all the liquids are evaporated.
Make the chili: Add the chili powder, the onion and the garlic and cook stirring very frequently for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is glossy. Add the chicken broth, the tomatoes, the honey, the peppers, the olives and the beans. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook uncovered until the chili is left with a thick sauce (about 40-60 minutes).
Finish: Add the corn and the parsley and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Serve with the side of your choice and add the yogurt, green onions and red pepper flakes on top.
- Don’t over-crowd the pan with the ground meat. A wide pan will brown the meat better.
- You can substitute the onion and the garlic clove with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 2 teaspoons onion powder/flakes
- For a spicy chili add 1/2 -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or a few drops of Tabasco sauce.
- For a thicker sauce mix two tablespoons of corn starch in 3 tablespoons of cold water and add it to the pot during the end of cooking. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes until the corn starch coagulates and thickens the sauce.
- Spices can have stronger or weaker flavor depending on their origin, age and storage conditions. Taste your chili halfway through cooking and add more seasoning if needed.
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