Vegan Chilli Con Carne

(Last Updated On: 5 January 2021)

This vegan chilli con Carne packs smokey, spice, and bite. There’s no turning to mush here! It’s a big’un too – so expect to be able to either feed the masses or have plenty spare for when you’re craving chilli on a baked sweet potato. Bliss.

This cauliflower chilli was inspired by the chilli that I stuffed inside acorn squash a while back. I wanted to take that, also vegan, chilli up a notch. We’ll get onto substitutions and the like later – but if you prefer to use broccoli in place of cauliflower for an, um, smaller version – I’d probably support that.

As I said up top, this is a big dish – I wanted to incorporate the whole cauliflower though. If you’re going out to buy a cauliflower for a recipe of mine, surely you’d rather I got you to use the whole thing. Otherwise, you’re going to be stuck with half a cauliflower that may be forgotten about in the back of the fridge. We don’t want that. We’re aiming for less food waste. Aren’t we?

Vibrant blue bowl containing vegan chilli next to a pile of fluffy white rice. They are topped with coriander.

This chilli is low in carbs, calories and saturated fats – and high in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants thanks largely, to the cauliflower.

Cauliflower Mince – The Star Of The Show

You’ve heard of cauliflower rice, today we’re heading into cauliflower meat territory. I’d probably stop short of calling it cauliflower ground beef, but only just.

If you’re a regular around here, you’ll know that cauliflower is my GO TOO for vegan dishes, see my cauliflower korma and whole roasted cauliflower. Today another fine example of just how versatile it is.

Terracotta coloured bowl containing blitz cauliflower "meat", small shreds of cauliflower.

To make minced cauliflower you’ll need either a food processor or a sharp knife and a lot of patience. Break off the cauliflower floret and chop them into pieces small enough for your food processor to handle, and blitz until you have smaller, grains of cauliflower. Yes – that’s exactly the same way you would go about making cauliflower rice.

The humble cauliflower contains many nutrients. It’s high in fibre, packed full of antioxidants, has properties that may aid in weight loss and is low in carbs (source: Healthline). How’s that compared to a packed of ground beef, huh?

Ingredients

To make this vegan chili con Carne you will need:

  • One large onion – finely chopped.
  • A red bell pepper – diced nice and small
  • 3 cloves of garlic – you guessed it, finely chop ’em
  • 10 cherry tomatoes – sliced in half and grilled for 7 – 8 minutes until charred
  • A medium-sized cauliflower – blitzed in the food processor, as described above
  • One tablespoon each of ground cumin, hot chilli powder and smoked paprika
  • Half a tablespoon each of dried oregano, dried thyme and dried basil
  • One vegetable stock cube or stockpot
  • 350ml freshly boiled water
  • A 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 265 grams of cooked lentil – from a packet or tin is absolutely perfect
  • A 400g tin of Kidney Beans
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • The juice of one whole lemon
  • 2 Seitan Chorizo Sausages – this is totally optional, but they add a lovely flavour and texture.
Ingredients require to make vegan chilli con carne laid out on a large wooden chopping board.

How To Make Meatless Chilli Con Carne

Let’s go through the process of making this veggie chilli step by step, shall we?

First up, whack the grill on high. Slice the cherry or baby plum tomatoes in half, and grill for 7 – 8 minutes until slightly charred. You can set these aside until we add them to the pot later on.

While the tomatoes are doing their thing, finely chop the onion and add to a large pan or pot with a couple of tablespoons of oil. Gently sweat the onion for 7 – 8 minutes, until it’s soft and beginning to go translucent. Add the red pepper, chopped up into small pieces, and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes. Next, add 3 finely chopped cloves of garlic and cook for another two minutes until super fragrant.

Diced onions and red bell pepper on a worn chopping board.

As the onions, peppers and garlic cooking away, make your cauliflower “meat” – as described above, if you haven’t done so already.

Add the cauliflower, cumin, chilli powder, smoked paprika, dried oregano and dried thyme to the pot, stir to thoroughly combine, turn the heat down to medium-low and then cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Go back and stir it occasionally but don’t worry too much about anything catching on the bottom of the pan, that will add flavour. Having said that, don’t burn it, obviously.

Next – add the chopped tomatoes, grilled tomatoes from earlier, stock cube, 350ml of freshly boiled water and the tomato puree, again, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the lid, and add the lentils, sugar and lemon juice. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to medium and allow the vegan chilli to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced somewhat and you have a thick, chilli.

Finally, add the kidney beans, half a tablespoon of basil and diced seitan chorizo if you’re using it. Still to combine and cook for another 5 – 8 minutes, until the meats are warmed through. Scatter over some freshly picked coriander leaves, and you’re ready to serve.

Big pot of vegan chili shot from above, with a serving spoon on a light blue linen napkin

Serving Suggestions

I’m all about a jacket potato with chilli (that’s a baked potato to some of you), loads and loads of vegan butter, piles of chilli, shredded cheese and some of that awful store-bought coleslaw that is only tasty with a jacket spud. It works particularly well with a baked sweet potato.

Of course, you could have this chilli with rice, quinoa, couscous or another grain of your choosing. In fact, you could even enjoy it on its own – it’s a meal in of itself.

Whichever way you eat this vegan chilli con Carne, as with all chillis, it’ll be enhanced with some vegan sour cream – check out this recipe from “Loving it Vegan.”

Sweet Potato loaded with vegan chilli con carne

Q&A + Substitutions

John, this is a MASSIVE Cauliflower chilli, can I make it smaller?

Of course! As I mentioned up top, I’m not too fond of it when recipes call for a half of something, so I wanted to go ahead and made sure I used the whole vegetable. HOWEVER, you can use half a cauliflower if that’s a more, um, comfortable amount of food to cook. If you’re using half, I’d advise just adding 100 – 150ml of hot water and then adding a little more if you’re chilli is looking dry. Keep everything else the same, though.

I don’t have cauliflower, can I use something else?

You could directly swap of the cauliflower for broccoli. As with making it smaller, I would add less water than the recipe calls for initially as broccoli will likely produce less “meat.”

How long will vegan chilli last in the fridge?

This chilli will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. I’d even say it’s probably at its best on day 2 or 3 once all those flavours have had a chance to get to know even other.

Can I freeze my veggie chilli con carne?

YUP! Allow it to cool completely and then transfer to freezer-safe bags or boxes. It will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight, and reheat either on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.

Did You Make This Cauliflower Chilli?

If you’ve made yourself vegan chilli con carne today, I would love it if you could leave a rating and comment below. It really helps me get to know you better and tells me which sort of recipes you want more of.

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Vegan Chilli Con Carne

A firm family favourite – this smokey chilli is packed full of veggie goodness, serve with rice, a baked potato or just eat it out of the vat we cook it in.
Servings 6 people
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 10 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic fienly chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes grilled
  • 1 medium cauliflower blitzed in food processor
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 350 ml boiling water
  • 400 g chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 265 g cooked lentils
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 400 g tin of kidney beans
  • 1/2 tbsp basil
  • 2 seitan chorizo sausages optional – but delicious

Instructions

  • Break the cauliflower into small floret, add to a food processor and blitz until you have small granules of cauliflower. Set aside.
  • Pre-heat grill to high.
  • Slice tomatoes in half, and grill for 7 – 8 minutes until they are charred slightly.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large pot (that has an accompanying lid) over medium heat. Sweat finely chopped onion until soft and beginning to go translucent, 7 – 8 minutes.
  • Next, add diced red pepper, and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes, before adding finely chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the cauliflower, cumin, chilli powder, smoked paprika, oregano and thyme – stir to thoroughly combine. Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  • Throw in the chopped tomatoes, grilled tomatoes, stock cube, water and tomato puree – stir to combine, bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  • Add the lentils, sugar and lemon juice, season well with salt and pepper and allow the chilli to simmer and reduce for 15 – 20 minutes.
  • Once your chilli has reduced and thickend, add the kidney beans, basil and diced seitan chorizo if using. Mix well and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until the beans are warmed through. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Scatter over some freshly picked coriander leaves and serve with rice, couscous or piled high on a jacket potato.
Calories: 235kcal
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican Inspired
Keyword: Family Favourites, One-pot Cooking, vegan
In Season: August, July, June, May, November, October, September
Special Diet: Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Vegan

Nutrition

Calories: 235kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 254mg | Potassium: 1012mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1839IU | Vitamin C: 98mg | Calcium: 115mg | Iron: 7mg

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