A hearty Vegetarian Chili Frito Pie recipe made in just under 30 minutes! It’s a quick weekday or weekend meal that can be made ahead of time and used when needed or freeze for later.
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. It also encouraged me to make more meat free meals and I ate meatless at least 3 times a week.
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 get super fancy now and top it with this pico de gallo and some diced avocados. Freshly shredded sharp cheese, sour cream, and Cholula hot sauce round it all out.
Living the high life! The best part is, since I’m not a poor ass college kid anymore, I can drink a beer AND have Fritos with my veggie chili. Really living the high life! LOL!
Adapting a vegetable chili recipe for a Frito pie
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
- Slightly decreased the amount of olive oil and onion
- I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes
- Changed the cooking technique for the chili
Enjoy this flavorful Vegetarian Chili Frito Pie this weekend for a meatless main dish alternative! Please let me know in the comments below what you topped it with too.
Vegetarian Chili Frito Pie
- 1/2 cup bulgur wheat
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 28 ounces tomatoes , chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco or use 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 2 red or green bell peppers , chopped
- 2 cups fresh or frozen cut corn
- 15 ounces canned black beans , drained and rinsed
- 15 ounces canned 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
- 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 corn chips in a bowl and cover with 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 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.