Easy Weeknight Chili and Gluten-Free Cornbread Bowls

There’s an old issue of Bon Appétit magazine in my Mom’s kitchen, the cover permanently folded back to a recipe for “picnic chili.” The page is tomato-stained, crinkled, and falling out of the magazine; she makes it a lot. Everybody loves it because here’s something different about this chili; the cilantro and cumin give it a bit of a Southwestern flair. Now that I’m on my own, I love this easy weeknight chili even more. Not only does it remind me of home – a cozy fire, football on the TV, good company, effortless weeknights – but I’ve come to appreciate it from the maker’s perspective. This chili is delicious, yes. But it’s also damn easy to make. Not to mention affordable. And freezable (your future self will thank you).

 Easy Weeknight Chili Bowl with Gluten-Free Cornbread | Gluten-free. | Loveleaf Co.
 Easy Weeknight Chili Bowl with Gluten-Free Cornbread | Gluten-free. | Loveleaf Co.

Since I’m the food CEO (read: control freak) in my house, the things I cook each week have to play by my rulesAnd I have a hunch that what I’m looking for in a meal is what you’re looking for too. Here are the requirements:

It Needs to be Delicious

Obviously. This chili is packed with flavor. The chili powder, cumin, and hot Italian sausage give it a good kick of heat. To balance out the spice, I like to serve it with cornbread or over some rice (or cauliflower rice!), topped with a bit of grass-fed yogurt, avocado, and cilantro on top.

 Easy Weeknight Chili Bowl with Gluten-Free Cornbread | Gluten-free. | Loveleaf Co.
 Easy Weeknight Chili Bowl with Gluten-Free Cornbread | Gluten-free. | Loveleaf Co.

It Needs to be Affordable

This is a big one for me. There's a common preconception that healthy food isn't affordable. But, one of my goals at Loveleaf is to show you that it is. Really. Here's the cost breakdown of this meal (yeah, let's go there):


Organic Italian Sausage (1 lb) $6.99 / lb
Organic Ground Turkey (2 lbs) $11.98 at $5.99 / lb
Gluten Free Beer (1 Bottle) $1.50
Organic Diced Tomatoes (28 oz can) $1.99
Organic Cannellini Beans (three 15 oz cans) $3 at $1 / can
Organic Tomato Paste $1.29
Onion $.69
Garlic $1


Aside from the meat, which I got from the butcher at Whole Foods, I purchased everything at Trader Joe's. The total cost for this entire batch of easy weeknight chili is $28.44. This recipe makes 12 servings, so that's just $2.37 per serving. Of course, this is assuming you already have the spices on hand. But, even if you need to buy a spice or two, each serving remains well under $5 per serving. To me, that's a win. Because that's like...less than a Big Mac. And most other fast food I can think of. And this chili is full of clean, organic ingredients. And doesn't make you feel... like you just ate a Big Mac. Because nobody got time for that.

A tip: Opt for tomato paste that comes in the tube rather than the can. That way, you'll be able to easily save the extra for future use.

 Easy Weeknight Chili Bowl with Gluten-Free Cornbread | Gluten-free. | Loveleaf Co.

It Needs to be Freezable

Ok, this is a bonus rather than a necessity. But I live by the rule: "cook less, eat more." And recipes that freeze well are like a little present we can give to our future selves. My suggestion? Freeze the chili in portions that you'd actually eat. For example, if you want the chili for two future dinners, each serving two people, freeze a four portion container. That way, when there's a week that you're in need of a meal or two, you don't need to defrost the whole batch. Voilà. Chili on demand.

Use this chili as the base of other meals! Make healthy chili dogs, use the chili in tacos or on nachos, or -  my personal favorite - over spaghetti squash.

So let's get to it. Here's the recipe for a big batch of my Mom's easy weeknight chili. The original recipe calls for veal, but I like to use ground chicken or turkey to lighten it up a bit. Any ground meat will work. To make it gluten-free, we use gluten-free lager instead of regular beer. Serve the chili with this easy vegan gluten-free cornbread. Serving a crowd? I've got three words for you: chips and guac.  

 Easy Weeknight Chili Bowl with Gluten-Free Cornbread | Gluten-free. | Loveleaf Co.

Easy Weeknight Chili
and Gluten-Free Cornbread Bowls

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 7 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 (14-oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 (12-oz) bottle of gluten-free beer
  • 3 (15-oz) cans of white kidney beans (cannellini), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
  • avocado, grass-fed yogurt, sour cream, and/or cheese for serving (all optional so mix and match!) 
  • Vegan Gluten Free Cornbread

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Combine sausages, ground turkey, onions, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme, and red pepper in a heavy, large Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is cooked through, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
  2. Add in the diced tomatoes with their juices, beer, and tomato paste. Simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add in drained cannellini beans and cilantro and simmer 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve with toppings of your choice and cornbread.