Hearty vegan chili with pan-fried tofu [V, GF option]

Hearty vegan chili with pan-fried tofu from The Spoon + Shovel

It’s November, and the crock pot meals have started creeping back into rotation. Having a go-to chili recipe is a must (especially when you're vegan!), and this one is packed with flavor (and protein). Most of the work is in the prep, so once it’s all in the pot, it’s smooth sailing.

*Note: I paired the black beans with homegrown calypso beans, but pinto or white work well also.

Ingredients:
2 C. cooked black beans (1 can)
2 C. cooked pinto or white beans (1 can)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3-4 T. olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 ½ C. tomato sauce (recipe here ) or 6 T. tomato paste (1 small can) + 1 ¼ C. vegetable stock or water
2 t. ground cumin
½ t. paprika
1 t. turmeric
¼ t. chili powder (you can add more, I’m just not big on chili heat)
½ t. cinnamon
1 t. ground black pepper
1 t. salt
1 C. vegetable stock (recipe here) or water
½ C. dark beer (stout, lager or porter - just nothing too hoppy) *omit to make GF
1 block extra firm tofu (1 lb.)

Prep time: 30-40 min
Cook time: 4-6 hrs
Yield: 8-10 servings

-If using dry beans (recommended), measure out 1 C. for each, wash each separately in a colander and place in separate bowls with 2-3 C. water. Let soak overnight in the refrigerator; if you want to speed up the process, you can bring the beans and water to a boil (again in separate pots), cover and boil for 2-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand on the counter for an hour to rehydrate.
-Drain tofu and slice into ~ ¼” strips; place flat on 2 or 3 kitchen towels, fold towels over and press tofu with something heavy (sugar + flour containers, cookbooks, pot full of water, etc.) for at least 20 min.
-Drain beans and place in the crock pot; set to high.
-Chop onion and peppers and add to the crock pot.
-Add tomato sauce (or tomato paste + veggie stock/water), bay leaf, cinnamon, veggie stock/water and beer to the crock pot.
-Heat a pan on medium-high and add cumin, paprika, turmeric, chili powder, salt and pepper. 
-Toast spices for 2-3 min, stirring regularly. 
-Add olive oil and as many tofu slices to the pan as you can fit. Coat tofu in spices and oil and fry on each side until crispy, 3-6 min. Remove finished tofu and repeat with remaining slices.
-Chop tofu into bite-sized pieces and add to the crock pot. 
-Stir well and cover with lid. Cook on high/medium-high for 4-6 hours, checking every 1-2 hours. Add salt, pepper and additional liquid (veggie stock, water or beer) as needed. It’s ready when the beans and peppers are soft and the flavors have mellowed. 

This is great for a potluck, football game, or to make in batches and freeze for easy dinners in the future. It’s also very easy to experiment with spice levels and additional flavors. What do you put in your chili? Leave a comment!

Hearty vegan chili with pan-fried tofu from The Spoon + Shovel