Vegan chili. It doesn’t have to be the same old three-bean variety that often fills the pots and bowls of restaurants and homes. Not that there’s anything wrong with tres frijoles, it’s just that chili can be heartier than that, and still be plant based.
For me, I usually start my chili with one of the many delicious chorizo substitutes from the likes of Tofurky, Lightlight, or Beyond Meat. Though most recently, I decided I’d try something a little less faux.
Upton’s Naturals makes some of the healthiest, and tastiest flavored seitan around. With less salt, and fewer calories than its TVP-based counterparts, Upton’s Chorizo Seitan is a great choice for a bolognese, or a good hearty vegan chili.
Your choice of bean or beans will of course vary, but for my taste, nothing goes better in chili than red kidney beans. These unfortunately named beans have a soft, full texture that provides the perfect mouthfeel when combined with a meaty food such as seitan. Whole Foods sells boxed kidney beans with no salt added. Rinse, drain, and add to the pot.
Next comes the tomatoes. Again, Whole Foods has an option. Canned, diced, and no salt added keep the sodium in check. I don’t drain the 14 oz can. The juices are an important part of the mixture, keeping the overall chili moist. While still juiced from the tomatoes, I add some chili powder, cumin, and a touch of tumeric. I eyeball the spices, with a roughly two to one ratio of
chili powder to cumin.
Nothing compliments a good chili like an earthy mushroom. Shitakes fill this role well. I find the stems to be a particularly good match for chili, given the chewy texture, and that of-the-earth flavor.
Of course it just wouldn’t be chili without chili peppers. So be sure to add some of those with your chosen heat. Add some habenero sauce to taste. I like my chili spicy. I also find slightly cooked onions, and freshly chopped tomato to compliment the cooked flavors of a vegan chili quite well. Though I add the onions and tomato to the cooked mix, I don’t let it stay in there long. I want the onions to be mostly raw.
Finally, serve and top with some Daiya cheddar shreds, or your preferred shreds. If you happen to have an avocado handy, the cool flavor from the fruit will play very nicely with the spicy, peppery flavors from the rest of the mix.