Dinner, Life, Soups

Black Bean, Sweet Potato & Turkey Chili with Spicy Cashew Spread

Monday morning greeted me with fog, drizzly rain and an overcast day. The sun tried to make an appearance as the day went on but to no avail. I wanted to make something comforting and simple. I wanted the house to be filled with delicious smells from something happily simmering away on the stove.

I stopped by the grocery on my way home after the first, of many, name changing appointments. Did you know you check in at a computer screen kiosk and get a number for your appointment at the Social Security office? I was feeling very much like a number, less like a human, as the minutes ticked by and a few other people wandered in. One man wondered aloud, to no one in particular, if he could win the lottery this way. He was advised by the guard keeping watch to have a seat, and that his number would be called soon. My name was called, I sat down and went through the data entry process with Pam, a very efficient employee. I briefly wondered what the world would be like if we did not have all of these computers, technology and screens to hide behind.

I wanted a comforting meal. A meal that was simple, hearty, and fairly simple to prepare. Chili came to my mind. I found Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe for turkey chili with a cashew spread. I had most of the ingredients on hand…it was looking good.

The cashew mixture was first on the list. Raw cashews get heated up in some oil with some spices.

Then blended together with some lime juice, jalapeno pepper, water and olive oil. Simple, fast and SO versatile. A creamy cashew spread great for crackers, sandwiches, chili…oh, the places we could go!

Sweet potatoes were scrubbed, cubed and roasted.

Meanwhile, onion, garlic and spices are sauteed in a pan. Ground turkey gets added in and cooked until it is cooked through. Tomatoes get added in and a simmer occurs. I let this simmer for awhile. Sweet Z and I poured a beautiful red, we were serenaded by Kat Edmonson, felt lucky to be together and in the moment in time and space, and as we made our way to the dinner table.

I made ¬†few modifications to this chili. I added more of the spices listed but also, added some touches of my own. The result was a satisfyingly delicious chili. It is hearty and filling with the turkey, beans and sweet potatoes. The cashew spread on top is an added texture that should not be missed. Sweet Z wanted to keep going and eat up the whole pot of chili and all of the cashew spread too…but I gently coaxed him off of the ledge. Also, I wanted to sneak in a cracker spread with some spicy cashew dip for a late night snack!

Try this chili for your first chili of 2013…I hope it will become a fast favorite for you as well!
In the meantime have a listen to Kat Edmonson. Your welcome.

Black Bean, Sweet Potato, Turkey Chili with Spicy Cashew Spread


  • Spicy Cashew Spread:
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 t. ground cumin
  • 1/2 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. sweet smoked paprika (pimento dulce)
  • 1/4 t. cocoa
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. cardamom
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • For the chili:
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 t. sweet Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 t. cocoa
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • pinch of cardamom
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 28 ounces canned, no-salt-added whole peeled tomatoes, plus their juices
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 14 ounces cooked or canned no-salt-added black beans (if using canned, drain and rinse;


  1. Preheat the oven to 400* and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the cashews, stirring to coat. Then add the cumin, cinnamon, paprika, chili powder, cocoa, and cardamom and continue to cook for about 2 minutes or until the nuts begin to brown.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a food processor (my advice: the bigger the better - life lesson learned!), then add the coarsely chopped jalapeno, lime juice, water, sea salt and the remaining 1/3 cup of oil. Puree until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. On the prepared baking sheet add the cubed sweet potatoes, oil and salt. Toss to combine and put in the oven to roast for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are tender, allow the potatoes to cool on the baking sheet.
  5. In a large pan over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, chili powder, cinnamon, cocoa and a big pinch of salt, stirring to coat. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until softened.
  6. Add the turkey; breaking up the into bite sized pieces with a wooden spoon, cook, stirring a few times to incorporate the onion mixture all together, until the meat is cooked through and its moisture has evaporated, which should take about 20 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a clean wooden spoon, and their juices and a big pinch of salt; increase the heat to high and add the water. Once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes. I simmered this for a good half hour/ forty five minutes.
  8. Stir in the beans and the cooled sweet potatoes; taste, and adjust the seasonings if needed. Cook for 15 minutes to blend the flavors. When ready to serve, ladle into soup bowls and garnish with the cashew spread. If you are feeling fancy add some chopped green onion or cilantro!

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