Chili doesn’t need meat to be tasty and hearty

By Jim Bailey
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Many people nowadays are concerned with the fat associated with meat. While vegetarian diets are frequently ridiculed, they are more often than not misunderstood. A hearty entree can be enjoyable even without a certain taste of animal protein. If cooked properly, Textured Vegetable Protein can offer a satisfying alternative to meats. Coming in an array of flavors, such as beef and chicken, TVP is very difficult to distinguish from the real meat, especially in a recipe such as chili. This is a perfect example of a great beef flavor without the guilt.

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Vegetarian chili can satisfy that meat craving.

8 ounces beef-flavored textured vegetable protein, or firm tofu
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 small bell pepper, cored and minced
1 medium carrot, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic in oil
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon (or more) cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup tomato puree or sauce
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or canned, undrained
2 cups kidney beans, undrained and unrinsed*

Crumble vegetable protein in a bowl until about the size of a dime. In a large saucepan, cook the TVP, onions, peppers and carrots in olive oil, over medium heat covered, until the carrots are crisp tender, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove lid and add chili powder, cumin and red pepper, continue cooking an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato puree and tomato paste. Continue cooking, uncovered now, and stir to blend well until heated through. Add the kidney beans and, again, bring up to temperature. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and enjoy!

*The cloudy liquid in canned beans is mostly starch and salt that may change the texture or taste of a dish. Most of our recipes call for draining and rinsing the beans to remove the excess salt and starch and improve flavor. Draining the juice also helps to lessen the effect the beans have on causing gas. It really does cut down on how much gas the beans cause in your system.

Yankee Chef book coverSchiffer Books of Pennsylvania has released Jim Bailey’s new book The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen. It contains more than 550 traditional New England comfort-food recipes tweaked for today’s palates with hundreds of kitchen tips and food facts. The hardback book is 312 pages and contains 200 color images. Its ISBN is 978-0-7643-4191-5 and the cost is $34.99. The book can be ordered through Misty Valley Books, 802-875-3400.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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