I’m sure there’s a more authentic name for this dish than “Italian Chili.” But it’s based off my slow cooker chili, so it makes perfect sense, right? And since it’s an AmyBites original, I claim naming rights. Italian Chili it is, whether it’s a “thing” or not. This dish was born via a flash of inspiration. One day at work last week, I was thinking about food (totally normal) and how great that slow cooker chili is. But I’ve been making it for years and haven’t really changed it up. And then, it hit me: what if I made an Italian version? Um, duh. A few simple swaps would take this from Mexico to Italy in a flash. There was zero chance it wouldn’t be amazing. I was pretty darn pleased with myself.
I simply swapped out most of the ingredients for their Italian counterparts and added a few other flavor boosters. Ground turkey is replaced with hot Italian turkey sausage, kidney beans with cannellini beans, Mexican-style stewed tomatoes with Italian-style stewed tomatoes, Italian seasonings…you get the picture. I also added a bit of pasta, some red wine for depth of flavor, finished it off with some fresh parsley, and ta-da! Perfetto. Or, in English, “bonkers delicious.” It’s a little spicy, a little sweet, savory, herby…basically, absolutely packed with flavor. And the texture is phenomenal. I love my chili chunky and full of contrasting textures, and this does not disappoint with the sausage, beans, all the veggies, and the pasta. I served it alongside some freshly-baked homemade focaccia bread and it was an absolutely delicious, perfectly satisfying meal. My old standby is going to have some competition in the chili rotation from now on, that’s for sure!
Slow Cooker Italian Chili
Adapted from AmyBites’ Slow Cooker Chili
- 1 lb. hot Italian turkey sausage
- 1 cup diced onion
- ½ cup diced celery
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, undrained
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- ½ cup dry red wine (can use water or low-sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable broth)
- 1 cup uncooked whole wheat short pasta such as rotini, macaroni or ditalini
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus additional for serving
- Cook the sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until brown, stirring to crumble. Drain most of the fat, leaving about a tablespoon of fat in the skillet with the sausage. Add diced onion and the next 6 ingredients (onion through salt), and cook for 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Place meat mixture in an electric slow cooker; stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, and red wine.
- Cover with lid, and cook on low heat setting for 4 hours. After 4 hours, add pasta to slow cooker and stir until all pasta is submerged in liquid; turn heat to high and cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Stir in 3 tablespoons chopped parsley. Scoop into bowls and top with additional fresh parsley if desired.
NOTE: The chili can be made on the stovetop if you don’t have a slow cooker. Instead of transferring mixture to slow cooker, leave on stovetop and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, 1½ hours. Then, bring back to a boil and stir in pasta; cook until pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.