Ultimate Veggie Chili
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon each chipotle chili powder and red pepper flakes
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, frozen and thawed
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (4-ounce) can diced jalapenos, drained
1 (4-ounce) can green chiles, drained
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn*
1 cup whole roasted cashews*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large stockpot, sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are starting to soften. Stir in cumin, chipotle, and red pepper flakes. Crumble the thawed tofu into the mixture and sauté 5 minutes more.
Reduce heat to medium. Add all tomatoes, jalapenos, green chiles, black beans, kidney beans, corn and cashews; mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
As the recipe stands, it’s an effortlessly vegan recipe. I personally prefer to add a little sour cream and grated sharp cheddar, but it stands alone perfectly well too, or you could use a vegan sour cream and/or cheese.
This is a great pantry recipe – only a few fresh produce items are called for, and as I said before, it really couldn’t be much easier. The one technique that might be new to a lot of people is the freezing, thawing and crumbling of the tofu. This is a crucial step! The freezing process causes the moisture within the tofu to separate from the soybean curd, which results in a denser, chewier texture, which is perfect for crumbling into any recipe you would normally use ground beef, turkey, sausage, etc. If you tried to crumble the tofu without freezing it first, the texture is much more like scrambled egg than ground meat.
My favorite way to do this is, after defrosting the tofu, placing it in a clean dishtowel and wringing it out (this was demoed on camera in the Showdown), thus squeezing the water out and crumbling the tofu at the same time. I usually crumble it a bit more by hand after I open the towel, just to make sure it’s even – and then right into the pot it goes!
*As the recipe appeared on the Showdown (and still appears on the Food Network site), I used only ½ cup each of the corn and the cashews, but I found that I was ALWAYS adding more, so I went ahead and changed it. Such is the constantly evolving nature of my recipes.
For more fun and delicious recipes from Donna Kelly go to www.Fabfrugalfood.com.
Donna Kelly – Author of Cookbooks and Food Blogger