A New Kind of Vegan Chili + How to Make Vegan Cheese at Home 


Tempeh Chili

Tempeh Chili on Food52

Whether you knew it or not, there’s a good chance you’ve had meatless chili before. Chilis made with beans (for example, black bean and sweet potato chili) are fairly ubiquitous, and most of us have crossed paths with them at some point or another. But tempeh chili? Well, that’s another story.

Unlike its fellow soy product, tofu, tempeh remains a somewhat exotic ingredient in American kitchens. This is a shame, because tempeh is versatile, nutritious, and satisfying in ways that some other meat substitutes are not; it has a dense, chewy texture and a nutty taste. And when you grate it on a box grater, it takes on a texture that is not unlike ground beef. Could anything be more perfect for a pot of vegan chili?

More: Looking for more vegan chili recipes? Try Gena’s smoky black bean and sweet potato version.

This recipe mixes grated tempeh with kidney and pinto beans to create a perfect, hearty chili that’s full of flavor and spice. I like to brown the tempeh before adding my beans and liquid; this adds an extra layer of flavor and makes for a more authentic chili texture. Even if tempeh hasn’t impressed you in the past, I bet it will be hard not to fall in love with this recipe.

Tempeh Chili on Food52

Tempeh Chili

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
One 8-ounce package tempeh, grated on the largest setting of a box grater or crumbled finely
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 large stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup puréed tomato sauce
One 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup green onions or scallions, chopped

Save and print the full recipe on Food52.

Photos by Gena Hamshaw

Cashew Cheese

Cashew cheese is perfect for dairy-free living — and for anyone who wants to try something new. Not only does is this creamy, cheesy spread made using gluten-free and vegan ingredients, but it comes together quickly and it’s endlessly versatile. Non-dairy lovers, rejoice!

This “cheese” has been a staple of mine in the kitchen since I stopped eating dairy. What makes this recipe especially delicious is the nutritional yeast, which contributes to the cheesy flavor and also, yes, adds nutrition.

More: Nutritional yeast is also the magical ingredient in vegan pesto.

Consider this fair warning: cashew cheese is so delicious you may find yourself wanting to consume the whole bowl. If you’re looking for creative uses for cashew cheese, here are a few ideas:

Dollop it onto baked potatoes, salads, fresh pasta, or scrambled eggs.
Use it as a dip for vegetables, fruits, or crackers.
Make a quick salad dressing with a tablespoon of cashew cheese and a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Make a cheese sauce with 1/4 cup cashew cheese, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and 1/2 cup of almond milk.
Simply spread it onto sandwiches, cracker, wraps, and toast.