Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chunky Vegan Chili with Oven-Baked Fries

For about a week the blazing Arizona sun succumbed to a change in air pressure and brought a sense of relief just when I thought fall might abandon us this year. Translation: it chilled the hell down for a few days. Overwhelming illusions that it was time to break out the stockpot and possibly a cashmere sweater were brought into check eventually, but I did seize the small window to squeeze in a cool-weather dish. A comfort food craving came on with an itch for spice, so chili was the obvious choice.

I don’t have extensive chili experience, but it’s one of those dishes that give a certain flare to the reputations of real cooks. Do you recall ever hearing of someone who made a “decent” chili? Do you have a favorite cafe that makes a “pretty good” chili? Of course not. Mediocre chili does not invoke or enliven the soul in a blissful tango with taste. Those who make incredible chili leave a mark. That delectable memory gets to camp out in a special place reserved for things like Mom’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Grandma’s Swedish Kringle. Chili hits a spot that is best reached after raking leaves or building snowmen - a spot which is not as easily accessible in my current environment as it was when I was little. Therefore I have to seize every semblance of opportunity I get. Which means, when it drops below 90, I can pull out the crock pot.

Now that I’ve built up chili so much - it might be a let-down to learn that this is not the recipe that will make me an infamous vegan chef. It’s not my best, worst, or last attempt. But it was very exciting prancing around the kitchen throwing in spices Emeril-style...BAM! In fact, I based this off of one of his recipes and it turned out quite well. I think I need more onion next time, because soups never seem to have enough. Regardless of it’s small imperfections or opportunities for enhancement, the enthusiasm was doubled by the batch of french fries so perfectly prepared by my loving omnivore. Chili and fries! I can’t seem to pair the two together without an exclamation point!

Chunky Vegan Chili
Makes 4-6 servings
Total cook time: 40 minutes


2 T. Olive or Canola oil
1 1/2 c. Onion, chopped
2 T. Garlic, minced
1 Anaheim chili, chopped
1 Summer squash, chopped
1 c. Yellow corn (1-2 ears)
1 c. Brown or portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 c. Garbanzo beans, cooked or canned
4 Tomatoes, chopped
1 Chipotle chili in adobo sauce
2 T. Chili powder
1 T. Cumin, ground
1 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Cayenne or piquin pepper
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 can Tomato sauce
1 c. Vegetable broth
Pinch of sugar

6 oz Tempeh, chopped or sliced
Taco seasoning: 1 tsp each - chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder


Shredded vegan cheese
Chopped red onion
Chopped avocado


In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until the onions are soft and transparent, about 10-12 minutes. Add garlic and Anaheim pepper. Cook another minute and add squash, mushrooms and corn. Cook vegetables 4-5 minutes and add beans, tomatoes and spices. Stir well to coat veggies in seasoning and pour in tomato sauce. Bring chili to a boil. Add vegetable broth and reduce heat. Simmer chili on low for 20-25 minutes while you prepare the tempeh.

In a small sauce pan, bring 1 c. water and seasoning to a medium boil. Add tempeh and reduce heat to medium. Steam tempeh in seasoned water until tender, about 7-8 minutes. Pour entire contents of pan into food processor and pulse 5 times, scrape tempeh down and pulse another 5 times. Heat a skillet over medium high heat, coat with cooking spray and add ground tempeh. Cook until browned, another 10 minutes.

Returning to chili, turn heat off but leave pot on the stove. Add pinch of sugar and tempeh. Let sit on warm stove another 10 minutes to let the flavors blend and cool. Serve with assorted toppings and side of fries.

Perfect Oven-Baked Fries
Makes 4-6 servings
Cook time: 30-40 minutes


2 medium russet potatoes
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut potatoes into wedges about 4” long and 1/4” thick. Coat with olive oil and generous pinch of salt and pepper. Spread on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Turn fries and bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove fries when dark golden brown and crispy.

1 comment:

  1. Kelly,
    Your chunky chilli looks great. I am liking the look of your fries too. Could tuck in right now.