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Italian Style Chili and Cornbread – Recipe

This amazing Italian chili is made with cannellini beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, 'nduja and zucchini and served with a side of polenta cornbread!

This recipe is a result of me craving chili and cornbread but only having Italian ingredients! ‘Nduja is a super flavorful, spreadable pork salume and is a great base for chili. You could use ground pork or beef if you can’t get ‘nduja or skip this completely for a vegetarian meal. Polenta is a nice replacement for cornmeal; the main differences between polenta and cornmeal are the corn variety and the ground. Helpful tip, this chili is even better with some fresh grated parmigiano or pecorino on top!


For the chili:

  • 16 oz tomato sauce (canned stewed tomatoes)
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ‘Nduja
  • 1 clove of garlic

For the cornbread:

  • 1 cup polenta corn grits
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk (dairy free is okay)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (dairy free is okay)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large pot, sautee ‘nduja and garlic in some olive oil over medium heat. You don’t need to cook ‘nduja but this will render the fat and add flavor to the beans. Do not let garlic brown. Add cannellini beans, chickpeas, kidney beans and zucchini and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir in tomato sauce and salt to taste. Turn down heat to medium-low; let simmer while you make the cornbread.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add polenta corn grits, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and stir with a whisk to incorporate.
  4. Melt butter in microwave or on the stove and stir in honey.
  5. Pour melted butter mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and stir to fully incorporate. Next add milk and stir. Finally, add the egg and whisk to fully incorporate.
  6. Pour batter into a greased 8×8 baking dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Serve chili over a piece of cornbread. This dish is great wish a glass of Chianti!

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