Recipe Round-Up: Texas Chili

Photo by dasroofless. Licensed under creative commons

It’s a bit repetitive to include “Texas” in the title there. Of course any chili on a blog about Texas will be Texas chili. But Texas chili, real Texas chili, poses special problems for vegans. Traditionally, Texas chili contains no beans, and beans are the basis for most vegetarian chilis. But vegans are creative, and we don’t let a pesky problem like this bother us. Here are the best beanless vegan chilis from around the web, each purist in its own way.

But first the rules. Besides no beans, Texas chili can’t have any vegetables. So no recipes that include corn or zucchini. We’ll let onions and tomatoes slide, but the veg meat should be the star of the show.

First up is this chili from the crew at Radical Eats in Houston. This recipe is an ode to Texas chili. It’s about the ingredients and the journey, and not about following directions. The chili features ground crumbles like Boca or Gimme Lean, though Staci says that tvp will work in a pinch. But really, you can’t go wrong with a recipe that begins with “Well you have to start with a really good veggie stock and lots and tons of onions,” and includes the option of cooking the chili “forever” or “half of forever” depending on your tomato choice.

Texas chili made with bulgur. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The next recipe is mine (you knew that was coming!) I feel strongly about my Texas chili. Don’t even think about adding beans. I use bulgur, though I’ve also subbed tvp or a combo of tvp and bulgur for a lower carb version. My recipe was born out of a longing for real Texas chili despite the fact that several of my family members make great with bean chilis (my sister-in-law’s has hominy, it’s fantastic). Those other chilis just weren’t what I think of as chili. This cooks up fast and makes a mean Frito pie.

Texas chili made with Gardein beefless tips. Photo posted with permission from Vegan Chronicle

And the final Texas chili comes to us from Starr at The Vegan Chronicle. This recipe uses Gardein beefless tips and a Dutch oven for a recipe that probably comes closest to the slow stewed chuck wagon chili made with tough cuts of meat on Texas cattle drives. For extra authenticity, use a cast-iron Dutch oven.

Three beanless vegan chilis made with three different kinds of veg meat. We still need a good seitan chili that stews in the pot to round things out.

***

I can’t write a post about Texas chili without mentioning the Texas Vegetarian Chili Cook-off, now coming up on its 23rd year! This annual festival inspires all kinds of creative dishes, with every vegan ingredient known to man. Last year there was even a raw chili. They’re not all authentic, but they’re a great picture of the creativity and pride inherent to Texas vegan cooking.

What Do Vegans Eat

There are a lot of tired stereotypes about what vegans eat. And at a time when 50% of Americans have heard of Meatless Monday, it’s time to gently put these stereotypes to rest. I’m speaking to the choir here, but here it is on the off chance that someone writing a fluff piece on the latest vegan celeb or restaurant actually bothers to do a quick google about what vegans eat. Because, frankly, the stereotypes are just lazy writing.

This is the stereotype of what vegans eat:


Photo by Sappymoosetree. Licensed under creative commons

I call this a sad salad. It’s sad. And no one wants to eat this. But often it’s the only vegan option on the menu. If you see a vegan eating this, just know, it’s not what they want to be eating. It’s a pity eat.

Photo by whologwhy. Licensed under creative commons

Plain steamed vegetables. A lot of people think a vegan meal is just a regular steak and mashed potato dinner minus the steak and mashed potatoes. It’s not.

Photo by Karendotcom127. Licensed under creative commons

A block of tofu. Hint, if you don’t want to eat it, we probably don’t either. I actually know someone who was served a plain block of tofu at a wedding. Tofu needs to be cooked and flavored. (There are some traditional Asian dishes involving fresh tofu. That’s not what I’m talking about here.)

Photo by Make It Old. Licensed under creative commons

Nothing.

***

What vegans actually eat. All of these photos are from a vegan stock photo site.

Photo by MeetTheWikos. Licensed under creative commons

Baked goods and sweets aren’t off limits to vegans. Sure it’s easier to get your vegetables on a vegan diet, but it’s also pretty easy to eat nothing but Oreos and microwave burritos if you’re so inclined.

Photo by Stephanie. Licensed under creative commons

Vegan food can be hearty, too. Especially when it includes beans. This is a tofu chimichanga, black beans, and all the typical fixings like pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.

Photo by Katelyn. Licensed under creative commons

This is how tofu looks when it’s treated right. Doesn’t it look tasty? And it comes with grains and vegetables, too, so it’s a complete meal.

Photo by Maggie Muggins. Licensed under creative commons

And let’s not forget dessert, something that’s rarely offered on restaurant menus aside from a scoop of sorbet and berries.

Need more ideas for what vegans eat? Check out this post on the USDA’s MyPlate food guidelines or the blog tag “what vegans eat.”

Mexican Hot Dog

I finally got my hands on Fieldroast frankfurters, and I knew I wanted to do something special with them. These aren’t ordinary veggie dogs, and, frankly, they’re a bit expensive (between $5-6 for 6 hot dogs).

Mexican hotdog by mollyjade. The frankfurters aren’t quite this dark. The lighting was off in this photo. Licensed under creative commons

Hence, the Mexican hot dog. I got the idea from Mo (a Texan!) at Mo Betta Vegan. Be sure to check out her Mexican hot dog, which is much more elaborate than mine. Mine had a Rudi’s organic hot dog bun slathered with Vegenaise, a grilled frankfurter, and then soyrizo, pickled jalapenos, and mustard. I was completely against the idea of mayo on a hot dog before this, but I think I’m sold on it now. I know this would only be better with grilled onions and pico. I’ve seen some versions with ketchup, too, but I think mayo, ketchup, and mustard is a bit too much for me.

If you haven’t tried Fieldroast’s new frankfurters yet, make it a priority while it’s still grilling weather. (Just kidding, it’s never gonna get cold again in Texas.) I tried them both grilled and microwaved, and they were good both ways. Seriously, veggie meat that tastes good microwaved is miraculous.

The texture is pretty similar to Fieldroast sausages, which isn’t very hot doglike. But I think that’s a good idea. Most veggie dogs come off as plasticky, and this is nothing like plastic. It tastes good and it smells like a hot dog. Enough so that it creeped me out just a bit. This is a hot dog I’d gladly serve to someone who thinks vegan food is weird and fake because there’s nothing weird or fake about it. The world needed a great veg hot dog, and I think we have it now. Fieldroast, how about pepperoni next?

Fieldroast is doing a series of hot dogs from around the country on their blog to launch the new frankfurters. So far they’ve done a Seattle dog (where they’re located) and a chili dog.

What This Vegan Eats

Photo by adav. Licensed under creative commons

There’s a meme going around the vegan internet of “what does a vegan eat.” The idea is to post a three-day snapshot of what you eat. Fellow Austinite Krys of Two Vegan Boys is participating, and I thought I would, too. You can read the original 3 day food diary by Kaye Spector of The Plain Dealer here.

Thursday
Breakfast: whole wheat English muffin with spinach and Daiya mozzarella melted under the broiler and an almond milk cafe au lait.
Snack: pistachios
Lunch: leftover Chinese food (Szechuan green beans, General Tso tofu with broccoli) and a plum
Dinner: spaghetti casserole (whole wheat spaghetti, seitan crumbles, tomato sauce with Daiya mozzarella sprinkled on top)
Snack: Sour creme and onion crackers

Friday
Breakfast: English muffin pizza and almond milk cafe au lait
Lunch: Salad, spring roll, and tofu gang panang curry from Titaya’s
Dinner: Veggie burger and cherries
Snack: Sour creme and onion crackers

Saturday
Breakfast: several glasses of almond milk cafe au lait
Lunch: half a veggie burger with jalapenos, pico de gallo, and barbecue sauce and sweet potato fries at Burger Tex
Dinner: white bean puree with crostata, rosemary sourdough bread, Capellini Neopolitano at Asti Trattoria

June Hyden Park Supper Club

Hyden Park Supper Club menu by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

I missed the first Hyden Park Supper Club, but Lazy Smurf’s recap and photos convinced me I needed to make it to the second come hell or high water. Or alluring VegFests in other cities. Thankfully, it hasn’t rained in a long time and the next big Texas Veg*n festival isn’t for a few months.

This is the second Hyden Park Supper Club, which Chef Elizabeth created to showcase real sustainable food. Or, leaves-to-roots cuisine, as she’s calling it. The meal was served in a Hyde Park yard decorated with twinkle lights, candles, and pleasant company. An array of jelly jar water glasses were placed carefully around the tables. But my eye was focused on the menu.

Tomato Tartar with Basil Oil and a Mochi Crisp. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

The first course was this gorgeous tomato appetizer with a mochi crisp on the side. I’ve never seen such vibrant tomatoes. [Looking at the Hyden Park tumblr, it looks like they were dyed with beet juice!] I’ve never had mochi before, and I’m still not sure what I think of it.

Watermelon Gazpacho with Lime Ice by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

But I forgot about the first course the minute the second course arrived. I’m not really a fan of gazpacho (don’t tell my mother!), so I wasn’t very excited for this course. But this was nothing like tomato gazpacho. Cool watermelon–not too sweet–with little bites of red onion. The ice floating in the middle was lime juice, like a dollop of sorbet. I loved every sip of it.

Main course at Hyde Park Supper Club by mollyjade. My husband thinks the plating looks a bit like a fish. Licensed under creative commons

The main course floored me. I started to worry about having enough room for dessert.  Starting at the top is barbecued tempeh ribs. There was none of the bitterness or crumbliness that tempeh can have, just a sweetness and a firm bite. Then a dill potato salad, which reminded me of the potato salad at Loving Hut in Arlington, which is a good thing. The turnips in the salad made it slightly sweet. Beside that, pickled watermelon radishes, which were surprisingly sour.

And then the cole slaw. This was probably my favorite dish of the night. Cole slaw is usually a boring afterthought at a barbecue. But this one had some surprising ingredients besides the usual cabbage. Green apple and what I *think* was thinly sliced seedless cucumber. It was chewy and almost rubbery, in a good way. In the corn husk was steamed corn bread, which was the only thing I didn’t really care for. Which left me with just enough room for dessert.

Peach crisp with pecan ice cream by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

And I was really glad I had room left for dessert. The ramekins came out warm and the ice cream cold. The peaches in the crisp were just boozey enough from the whiskey. And the ice cream wasn’t coconutty or icy, but mild and creamy enough for the taste of pecans to come through.

After the meal, other Texas VegFest organizers and I had a chance to talk with Texas State Veggie Fair organizers Jamey and Christy. Now I’m even more excited for both events. I tried to convince Jamey and Christy that the Veggie Fair needs an Earth Balance sculpture. Check out Christy’s description of the meal and the rest of her trip to Austin at her blog, The Blissful Chef.

A big thank you to Chef Elizabeth for creating such a wonderful meal and dining experience.

New MyPlate Graphic–Vegan Style

Image from ChooseMyPlate.gov

The USDA released a new MyPlate graphic to replace the really confusing MyPyramid. I think the new plate is terrific. It’s a very simple design that easily translates to how people actually plate their food. It emphasizes fruits, vegetables, beans, and peas and deemphasizes meat.

So what does a vegan plate of food look like when it conforms to these guidelines? Check out these meals culled from flickr:

Split pea and coconut milk soup with greens and millet. Photo by mollyjade. Licensed under creative commons

Tofu asada taco by belinda. Licensed under creative commons
Orzo, kale, and marmalade tofu by jodigreen. Licensed under creative commons
Tofu and bok choy stir-fry with rice by Zlatko Unger. Licensed under creative commons
Nopales (cactus) tacos with beans and a side of veggies by digiyesica. Licensed under creative commons
Whole wheat bread, pistachios, Rancho Gordo beans, carrots, and sugar snap peas by District 47. Licensed under creative commons
Curry fried rice featuring vegetables, black beans, and black rice by Pabo76. Licensed under creative commons
Soup with noodles, tofu, and assorted vegetables by massdistraction. Licensed under creative commons
Sampson (bean) burger with a side of watermelon by quite peculiar. Licensed under creative commons
Seitan katsu rice bowl by muy yum. Licensed under creative commons
Seitan and veggie skewers with grilled corn by tofutti break. Licensed under creative commons
Squash scones, spicy tomato jam, hash browns, apples slices, and swiss chard by massdistraction. Licensed under creative commons
Apple slices, Tofurky breakfast sausage, garlic scapes and mushrooms, hash browns, and whole wheat toast by mass distraction. Licensed under creative commons
Mushroom and spinach tofu scramble, hash browns, and strawberries by Amy Groark. Licensed under creative commons
Oats with soy milk, cocoa nibs, raisins, cinnamon, and pecans by plasticdollhouse. Licensed under creative commons
***
Interested in learning about vegan nutrition? Check out the book Vegan for Life by registered dietitians Ginny Messina and Jack Norris, either of their blogs, or Vegan Health which Jack maintains.