All the flavor of chili in a fraction of the time
It’s cooling off in our part of the world. And chilly means chili!
But what if you don’t have time to make a big pot of the hearty stuff? Enter this Chili-Spiced Vegetable Stir-Fry. It has all the ingredients you’d find in vegetarian chili. Minus the liquid — and the simmering time.
Chili you can eat with a fork? Works for us.
Recipe: Chili-Spiced Vegetable Stir-Fry
This isn’t classic stir fry (though it’s pretty similar and equally quick). You could also call this dish a sauté. Or a skillet dinner. Different words, somewhat different techniques. But the general idea is the same.
Our recipe produces a moderately spicy dish (but you can adjust that to your own taste). And feel free to substitute other vegetables for the ones we suggest. Whatever looks appealing to you will probably work.
Prep time for this dish is 10 to 15 minutes. Cooking time adds about another 15 minutes.
This recipe makes 3 to 4 main-course servings (depending on how hungry you are). Leftovers keep for a few days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 1 medium onion
- 1 bell pepper (any color, although we favor red)
- 3 garlic cloves (or to taste)
- 1 jalapeño pepper (or more to taste; we prefer 2)
- 2 yellow squash or zucchini (or a mix of the two)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (olive or a more neutral oil)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon mild or spicy chile powder (we like to use dried Hatch chile powder; see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon dried cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can kidney or pinto beans
- Peel the onion and cut it into ½ inch dice. Set aside.
- Wash and dry the bell pepper. Core the pepper, then cut it into dice of an inch or so. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely or slice it thinly. Set aside.
- Wash and dry the jalapeño pepper(s). Cut off the stems, then cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds (it’s the seeds that carry much of the heat). Mince the jalapeño finely (you may want to reserve some slices for garnish). Set aside. Then wash your hands with soap and water to remove the hot jalapeño oil from your skin.
- Wash and dry the yellow squash and/or zucchini. Cut off the stem ends of the squash, then slice each one into halves (or quarters) lengthwise. Then cut each length into half- or quarter-moon slices. Set aside.
- Place a large frying pan (preferably nonstick) over medium stovetop heat. When it’s hot, add the cooking oil. When the oil is heated (about 15 seconds; it’ll shimmer), add the chopped onions and diced bell pepper. Salt to taste. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the chopped garlic and jalapeño. Cook for one minute. Add the squash pieces, then stir in the spices (chile powder, cumin, coriander, oregano). Stir to combine. Add the can of diced tomatoes.
- Pour the canned beans into a colander or strainer, rinse them off, then add them to the stir fry. Stir again to combine. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the veggies are sufficiently soft (we prefer ours a bit firm). Taste the dish, adding more salt if necessary.
- Plate the stir fry. Garnish if you wish (see Notes) and serve.
- You can garnish this dish with sliced or diced jalapeño, chopped cilantro, chopped onions, shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, whatever – let your imagination run wild. Or just serve it neat, as we often do.
- You can also add chopped cilantro to the dish for extra flavor. Just stir in several tablespoons a minute or so before serving.
- Want to add meat to this dish? Leftover cooked beef or chicken would work well. Just chop it into dice of about ½ inch, then add it to the dish when you add the tomatoes and beans.
- That said, we really like the veggie version of this dish. It has loads of flavor and is pretty healthy. We really don’t miss the meat at all.
- We like to use a medium-hot chile powder in this dish. We particularly like Hatch chile powder (which can range from mild to very hot). If you want to use something mild but with good flavor, try ancho chile powder, which is available in most supermarkets.
- Chile (with an e) powder is made from dried chile peppers. Chili (with an i) powder contains chile powder plus other seasonings (usually cumin, coriander, oregano, and loads of salt).
- You can substitute chili powder in this recipe if you prefer. If going that route, use about 2 tablespoons. Omit the cumin, coriander, and oregano (which are already incorporated into the chili powder) and maybe reduce the salt.
- Kosher salt is less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using regular table salt, start with about half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Yum,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Stick a fork in it.”
“So you’re happy to have chili today, hot tamale?” I said.
“Yup,” said Mrs K R. “You’re a zucchini Houdini.”
“And no spoon required,” I said. “That’s the real magic.”
“Oregano have seconds?” said Mrs K R.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Chicken and Celery Stir-Fry
Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans
Simple and Quick Vegetable Stir-Fry
Summer Squash in Tomato Curry Sauce
Slow Cooker Homestyle Chili
Roast Squash & Sweet Potato Chili with Kale
Or check out the index for more
Quick and delicious stirfries like this are my favourite! This is so colourful and tasty, John.
Hi Angie, this dish is a real weekday favorite of ours at this time of the year. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum! It looks hearty and tasty.
Hi Pam, bit yes to both! :-) Thanks for the comment.
We love vegetables, so this sounds (& looks) like something my family will love. The bonus here is that it's healthy! Since we have little ones, I'll leave out the Jalapenos, but slice some up & put them in a bowl on the table for we grownups. This would also be terrific if served over a 'small' scoop of a healthy grain, like Farrow or Quinoa. Thanks for this lovely recipe :-)
Again I love the puns! I am going to put this on the menu plan next week (If I remember). I have already book marked the page.
Hi Anonymous, serving the jalapeño peppers on the side is an excellent idea! Enjoy. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Anne, :-) This is really good -- you'll like. Thanks for the comment.
I like the veggie version too! I could whip up a batch of cornbread and eat this for a couple of days!
I love any type of chili, so comforting abd perfect for colder days,yum!☺
Hi Pat and Dahn, we love cornbread -- I was almost going to shoot the photos with cornbread on the side. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Natalia, chili is wonderful, isn't it? Love the stuff! And this is every bit as good :-) Thanks for the comment.
How lively and fresh, bursting with chilli and spice. This is classic and doable, fork yes 🙂
What a colorful dish! Sounds like a lively flavor mix too. We're looking for ways to eat less meat—this seems like a great option.
Actually this is a great idea John, using chili spices for the stir-fry...especially with all kind of vegetables...thanks for the recipe.
Have a great rest of the week!
This is so good.
Hi Merryn, real easy, real good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Terry, we love meat, but are cutting back a bit. Really never miss it in a dish like this. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, isn't this fun? And awfully good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi R, it is, it is. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks delicious! And so perfect for busy weeknights!
Hi Kelsie, it's really good. And really quick and easy -- winner! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Tho' I might not call this a stir-fry the colourful vegetable melange is truly made a full meal by the welcome bean content - and that in a world which should reduce its meat consumption at a far faster rate it is. Cannellini beans are favourites hereabouts . . . but one would never find a fork set on my table . . . these kind of dishes taste ever so much better using chopsticks . . . well, I tens to use those with many European ones also :) !
this looks very tasty and fresh KR. Love your photos - everything always looks so shiny and delicious in them!:-) cheers S
Quick, healthy and packed with flavor. My favorite kind of meal! :-) ~Valentina
Hi Eha, it certainly isn't a stir-fry in the strict -- or not-so-stick! -- use of the word. But it's a handy way to describe it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Sherry, it's a wonderful dish. And thanks for that very kind comment. :-)
Hi Valentina, ours, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love dishes with a kick. This meatless stir-fry looks so good, John!
Hi Denise, it's wonderful! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is such a fun twist on an old classic. Brilliant! Love eating the harvest crops in a stir fry. Summer squash is plentiful this time of the year. Wishing you a super week ahead.
Hi Bobbi, this dish really is fun. And good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Great stir fry, John! And the extra kick makes it even better! Pretty colorful and appetizing for sure! Thanks for the recipe!
Hi Pam, good stuff, huh? :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is the perfect way to ease the transition from summer to fall. Summer vegetables with warm fall spices. Yum!
Hi Laura, definitely a transition recipe. And a great way to use veggies. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Simplicity in dishes is always a welcome thing in our kitchen. I love the idea of a stir-fry with a Mexican twist, I could easily make a meal of this. Toss in some warm flour tortilla to wrap your chili stir-fry in and I'm thinking veggie perfection.
Hi Ron, this would make a great filling for tortillas! Although it's really good all by itself. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the "zucchini Houdini!" This looks so pretty, and I'm sure it tastes just as good as it looks!
Hi Jean, :-) It actually tastes better than it looks! Thanks for the comment.
This does sound wonderful, and so easy to put together!
Hi David, we make variations of this dish (not always chili-flavored) ALL the time for weeknight dinners. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wow- I never knew the difference between chile and chilli- I always thought 'chile' was just the Spanish spelling for 'chilli.' It really does make a difference, knowing this! Thanks for the recipe- my husband is a meat-lover so I think I might just add a bit of meat to the recipe.
Hi Fran, the "chile vs chili" thing is probably more the US spelling, but hen this is a US-based blog. :-) Meat in this would be good, but honestly, this has SO much flavor your husband might not even notice it doesn't have meat in it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks like my kind of lunch!! A different take on one of my favorite cold weather meals :)
Hi Liz, fun dish, huh? :-) Thanks for the comment.
A good tasting and good-for-you quick dish on a weeknight. The best of all worlds. ;)
Hi Carolyn, definitely the best of all worlds. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So delicious and the kind of meal I would love to have when the weather here gets nippy
Hi Taruna, this is really good, and pretty easy to put together. Winner! :-) Thanks for the comment.
A plateful of beautiful colors topped with your signature perfect jalapeño slice. GREG
Hi Greg, we DO love those jalapeño slices. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the flavors in this dish. Great for the cooler weather.
Hi Dawn, it's a wonderful dish -- tons of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the idea of a quicker chili! I think I have everything needed to make this too. Great dinner plan.
Hi Lisa, this is good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a fun and colorful twist on chili! Love all the veggies in it!
Hi Kelly, this dish is a great way to eat your veggies! :-) Thanks for the comment.
A delicious and quick vegetarian meal. love it! Thanks for sharing because I'm always looking for another hearty and quick meal without meat, but some protein.
Hi MJ, we really like meat, but want veggie protein options, too. Hence, this recipe. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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