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A New Kind of Vegan Chili

By | February 20, 2014
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Vegan lunches can -- and should -- be a lot more interesting than bare salads or carrot sticks and hummus. New Veganism columnist Gena Hamshaw will be sharing inspiration for midday meals that stave off both hunger and boredom.

Today: Want to recreate the texture of classic chili, without the meat? Here's how. 

Tempeh Chili on Food52

Whether you knew it or not, there’s a good chance you’ve had meatless chili before. Chilis made with beans (for example, black bean and sweet potato chili) are fairly ubiquitous, and most of us have crossed paths with them at some point or another. But tempeh chili? Well, that’s another story.

Unlike its fellow soy product, tofu, tempeh remains a somewhat exotic ingredient in American kitchens. This is a shame, because tempeh is versatile, nutritious, and satisfying in ways that some other meat substitutes are not; it has a dense, chewy texture and a nutty taste. And when you grate it on a box grater, it takes on a texture that is not unlike ground beef. Could anything be more perfect for a pot of vegan chili?

More: Looking for more vegan chili recipes? Try Gena's smoky black bean and sweet potato version.

This recipe mixes grated tempeh with kidney and pinto beans to create a perfect, hearty chili that’s full of flavor and spice. I like to brown the tempeh before adding my beans and liquid; this adds an extra layer of flavor and makes for a more authentic chili texture. Even if tempeh hasn't impressed you in the past, I bet it will be hard not to fall in love with this recipe.

Tempeh Chili on Food52

Tempeh Chili 

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
One 8-ounce package tempeh, grated on the largest setting of a box grater or crumbled finely
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup puréed tomato sauce
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup green onions or scallions, chopped

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Gena Hamshaw  

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