Since we are about to embark on a cross-country move from Alabama to Washington state, lately I’ve been trying to cook through all of the dried and canned food in my pantry. Okay, maybe not all - it’s unlikely that I’ll go through about 10 pounds of dried beans of all sorts, but at least I’m trying!
One of the long-forgotten things in my pantry that I’ve stumbled upon the other day was a bag of textured vegetable protein, or TVP as it’s known in the cooking world. I bought it to make these vegan sausages from Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore Cookbook. The sausages were delicious, but I haven’t made them again since then, and the bag of TVP got pushed all the way to the back of my pantry. Once I rediscovered it the other day, I set myself for a challenge to use it.
Enter this vegan chili recipe I came up with: I was able to use up at least a half of the TVP I had, plus a cup of dried pinto beans from my vast dried bean collection. (Here’s how I cook dried beans from scratch.)
The internet is abundant with various TVP chili recipes, so I was happy to use a few helpful tips on using it in cooking. Basically, the dried TVP crumbles come back to life after you soak them in boiling water for a few minutes, and once you add them to the pot of chili, they absorb all of the flavors of the dish. My biggest surprise was to find out that cooked TVP has the exact same texture as ground meat, which worked great in this chili!
Another tip I found helpful: Matt from No Meat Athlete blog suggested blending some of the cooked beans (pinto in my case) with tomatoes and hot peppers in a food processor, and adding that mixture to the rest of the ingredients in the pot. This adds up to the hearty texture of your chili. Following his advice, I blended 1/2 cup of beans with canned green chilies, tomato paste and some vegetable broth. The resulting chili was thick and velvety-smooth, so I highly recommend this tip!
I can see that some of us might question if TVP fits into the category of healthy whole-food ingredients. I’ll admit that it is a processed food since it doesn’t grow on a tree branch out in the wild, but if we only use it once in a while, there’s no need to be afraid. There are lots of other plant-based ingredients that we can add to a pot of chili (for example, I used barley in my Three Bean Barley Chili recipe), so if you’re not a fan of the TVP idea, you’re welcome to skip it altogether.
This delicious and heartwarming chili makes a great dinner, especially when it's cold outside! The addition of TVP gives it a meaty texture, and sweet potatoes add a mild hint of sweetness. Canned green chilies bring a nice kick of spice - adjust them to your liking.
- 1 cup dried TVP (textured vegetable protein)
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 small parsnip, peeled and chopped (optional)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups cooked pinto beans, or 1 can, drained and rinsed
- One 4-oz can of canned green chilies, mild or medium (I used mild, and they were pretty hot), OR
- 1-2 canned chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (optional if using canned chilies)
- One 8-oz can tomato sauce
- 3 cups vegetable broth, divided (see my easy veggie broth recipe)
- splash of red wine (optional)
- Bragg's liquid aminos or salt, to taste
- Fresh cilantro, avocado slices to garnish
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1/4 - 1/2 Tbsp chipotle chile powder
- 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
- 1/2 Tbsp black pepper
- Soak 1 cup TVP in 1 cup of boiling water, set aside.
- In a food processor or blender, combine 1/2 cup pinto beans, tomato sauce, canned chilies OR canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Blend until smooth.
- Heat up a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp veggie broth. Once the broth is bubbly, add chopped carrots, onion, celery, bell pepper and parsnip. Cook 3-4 min, stirring and adding more broth to prevent sticking. Add minced garlic and the diced sweet potato. Cook 3-4 min longer, or until the potato pieces start looking partially cooked.
- Stir in all of the spices, beans, TVP (squeeze it lightly before adding to the pot), the mixture from the food processor, and the remaining veggie broth. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 min, stirring a couple times.
- Add a splash of wine (if using) and Bragg's liquid aminos or salt. Cook for 5 min more, taste and adjust the seasonings. Take off the cover and cook for 10 min more. Turn off the heat and set the pot aside for 10-15 min to let the flavors blend.
- Serve with fresh chopped cilantro, avocado slices, vegan sour cream, hot sauce, etc. to your liking.
What other vegan recipes with TVP have you tried?
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