A hearty frito pie made with an easy vegetarian chili from a recipe adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook. It’s so satisfying and made in just under 30 minutes for a quick weekday or weekend meal!
My Favorite Kind of Frito Pie
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. Healthy, low calorie, chock-full-of-veggies chili on top of not so healthy fried, bagged corn chips. You know, it’s all about balance. 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.
The best veggie chili recipe
Growing up, my Mom always made sure the majority of our diet came from whole, natural foods and she made sure she cooked weekly vegetarian meals. Many of the recipes were from the cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home: Fast and Easy Recipes for Any Day. One of my favorite recipes in the book is their Red, Gold, Black, and Green Chili and it’s been the go-to vegetarian chili for my Frito pies since 1994.
When I left home for college, Mom bought me a couple of the Moosewood cookbooks and included the famed “cooks at home” one. I love this cookbook so much, because it’s a straight forward, down to earth way to cook easy, healthy, 30 minute or less meals. For me, it made cooking vegetarian meals more approachable and less scary.
A healthy meal on a budget
Since beans are inexpensive and filling eats, this recipe became my main meal to make. 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. Now I make this chili just to make Fritos pies!
I even get a little fancy and top it with this pico de gallo and some diced avocados (in addition to cheese and sour cream). Living the high life! And I drink a beer with it. Really living the high life!
adapting a vegetable chili recipe
Based on personal preference for certain food items, 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, and slightly decreased the amount of olive oil and onion. Sometimes I use fire-roasted tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes and I also changed the cooking technique for the chili.
Enjoy this vegetable chili recipe for a flavorful Frito pie this weekend for a meatless main dish alternative!
- 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 3 cups (28oz can) chopped tomatoes undrained
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 2 red or green bell peppers chopped
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cut corn
- 1 (15 oz cans) black beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz cans) small red beans or kidney beans drained and rinsed
- salt to taste
- 1 large bag of Frito corn chips
- 1 recipe of pico de gallo
Place water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, add the bulgur, stir well, cover and simmer gently until cooked but still chewy (about 5-7 minutes).
While the bulgur is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until slightly soft (about 2-3 minutes). Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and Tabasco or cayenne. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add red bell peppers and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, Add the tomatoes with their juice, corn, and both cans of beans; stir well. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until fully heated. Add the bulgur and it's liquid to the chili. Stir well, cover, and let simmer for a few minutes to allow flavors to meld together. Add salt to taste.
Put desired amount of Frito corn chips in a bowl and cover with chili. Top with sour cream, cilantro, avocado, cheese, and pico de gallo, if desired.
Store leftovers in a covered tightly container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Use to fill tacos, burritos,or lettuce cups or make NACHOS!!