The BEST Vegetarian Chili Frito Pie recipe made in only 30 minutes! It's a quick weekday or weekend meatless meal that can be made ahead of time and used when needed or freeze for later.
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Seriously, this is the best vegetarian chili...
I know, those are some pretty strong words, but I feel I can make this "best" statement because the recipe isn't really mine.
Let me explain.
Growing up, my Mom always made sure the majority of our diet came from whole, natural foods.
She also made sure she cooked weekly vegetarian meals.
Of these meals, many of the recipes were from the cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day.
I love this cookbook because it's a wonderful resource for non-meat lovers and meat lovers alike.
Moosewood's book provides a straight forward, down to earth way to cook easy, healthy, 30 minute or less vegetarian meals.
The great thing too is that they don't even taste like they are vegetarian to a meat lover!
One of my favorite recipes in the book is the Red, Gold, Black, and Green Chili.
It's also always been the go-to vegetarian chili for my Frito pies.
And I don't ever miss the meat!!
How to make a Frito pie
A Frito pie consists of a meaty beef chili placed on top of corn chips and topped with cheese and other condiments.
Like salsa, fresh onions and jalapenos, sour cream, and/or hot sauce.
It can be served in a casserole dish, but is most commonly known for being served in a single serve bag of Fritos corn chips.
The bag is split down the middle and chili is on scooped on top of the chips.
After piling on a few toppings, a fork is stuck in the middle and the bag serves as a plate for the chili and corn chip mixture.
It's literally one of the most glorious things on this planet Earth.
If I could eat chili and corn chips every day of my life, I would.
That's why I think this vegetarian chili Frito pie recipe is so perfect for life.
You know, it's all about balance in life.
The "if I'm going to eat a whole bag of Frito corn chips, I should at least add some vegetables in there" kind of balance.
A healthy, low calorie, chock-full-of-veggies chili on top of not so healthy fried, bagged corn chips seems like the ideal answer.
Suggested toppings for chili
- Pico de gallo
- Diced avocados (or guacamole or both!)
- Lots of freshly shredded cheese
- Sour cream
- Diced jalapenos
- Hot sauce (Cholula is my favorite)
This recipe is totally budget friendly too, as beans are such inexpensive and filling eats.
When I was a struggling student in college, I made this chili at least once every other week.
I could make a huge pot and eat on it for days, even after feeding a few friends.
Back then I wasn't willing to waste my beer money on Fritos, so I just ate it as chili. No extras at all.
Now I make this chili just to make Frito pies!
What is bulgur wheat?
The "meat" in this best chili recipe is the bulgur wheat.
Bulgur is a whole grain cereal made from dried, parboiled cracked wheat, which makes it very easy to prepare.
Bulgur has a hearty texture with a light, nutty flavor and is a desirable substitute for meat in recipes.
It's also minimally processed and is overflowing with many nutritional benefits, with a low calorie content.
Bulgur is commonly found in Middle Eastern cuisines and one of the most popular dishes is tabbouleh.
It's a refreshing salad made with bulgur, tomato, onions, mint, and parsley in a lemon and olive oil dressing that's found everywhere now.
You can even buy it pre-made in the grocery store refrigerated section, by the hummus.
Adapting a vegetable chili recipe for a Frito pie
Based on personal preference, I changed a few of the ingredients from the original Moosewood chili recipe:
- I used red bell peppers instead of green
- Increased the amount of chili powder from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon
- Slightly decreased the amount of olive oil and onion
- I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes, instead of regular tomatoes
- I also like to use Trader Joe's frozen roasted corn kernels, in place of plain corn
- Changed the cooking technique for the chili
Eat your veggies!! Here are a few more vegetarian recipes
- Mexican Street Corn Potato Salad
- Mini Spanakopita (Spinach and Feta Pies)
- Easy Falafel
- Healthy Gazpacho
- Mediterranean Farro Salad
- Asparagus Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust
- Mexican Roasted Broccoli
- Artichoke Dip
- Easy Indian Creamed Spinach
- Beet Salad with Goat Cheese, Apricots, and Pistachios
- Spinach Artichoke Risotto
Enjoy this BEST Vegetarian Chili Frito Pie recipe whenever you want a meatless main dish alternative.
Please let me know how you like it and what toppings you used in the comments below!
Best Vegetarian Chili Frito Pie Recipe
- ½ cup bulgur wheat
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 2 medium red or green bell peppers , chopped
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco or use ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- 28 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes , diced and undrained
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cut corn kernels (I use frozen roasted corn; no need to thaw first)
- 15 ounce can of black beans , drained and rinsed
- 15 ounce can of small red beans or kidney beans , drained and rinsed
- salt to taste
- 10 ounces corn chips
- 1 recipe of pico de gallo
optional accompaniments: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, and diced avocado
COOK THE BULGUR:
- Place water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, add the ½ cup bulgur, stir well, and cover with a lid. Simmer gently until cooked, but still chewy (about 15 minutes).
MAKE THE CHILI:
- While the bulgur is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté 1 large chopped onion until slightly soft (about 3 minutes).
- Add the 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1 tablespoon Tabasco or ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the 2 chopped bell peppers and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low, add the 28 ounces of tomatoes with their juice, 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, and both 15 ounce cans of black and red beans. Stir well, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until fully heated though and tomatoes have broken down a little.
- Add the cooked bulgur to the chili. Stir well, cover, and let the chili simmer for a few minutes to allow flavors to all meld together. Add salt to taste.*Chili will be super thick, so can add a little water at this time to thin it out to desired consistently.
MAKE THE FRITO PIES:
- Divide the amount of corn chips between 4 bowls and cover with a generous portion of chili.
- Top with sour cream, cilantro, avocado, cheese, and pico de gallo.
Recipe Notes & Tips:
- Store leftovers in a covered tightly container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze up to 2 months.
- Use chili to fill tacos, burritos, lettuce cups or make NACHOS!!
- Slightly adapted from the Red, Gold, Black, and Green Chili recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks At Home.