I got a message on Facebook last week from a relative. “Hey, we’re going to be in town for the Super Bowl, are you around that weekend?”
Two questions: 1. The Super Bowl is in New York this year? 2. What weekend?
To give you an analogy, this kind of question is like me writing to a friend in San Francisco to say “Hey, I’m showing up for the Point Reyes Blue Cheese Festival, are you around that weekend?”
I did consider asking him for specific dates, but remembered my trusty resource Google. Google is that friend to whom you direct all of your embarrassing questions. As long as you clear your history. You don’t want your significant other to see that you’ve been researching Syphilis. That happened to good friends of mine (it was an honest mix up, I won’t get into it) but it serves as a cautionary tale: keep that history clean.
I’ve formed a strong relationship with Google over the years, sometimes I think I expect a little too much; I’ve caught myself asking open-ended questions, like “will I have another baby?” or “will my dinner guests like salt cod?” But for the garden variety questions, Google’s always had my back.
Armed with information, I quickly responded “we’re in town!”
It’s not that I was completely unaware that something vaguely footballish was going on. Facebook was abuzz. Taunts were thrown. My sister’s update on Jan 19 read: “Are you watching Brady peeing in his Gucci panties? #BRONCOSSSSSSSSSS”.
So I did what any smart person with a food blog would do – I immediately logged onto Pinterest and created a Super Bowl board, and started collecting recipes for all of those manly dishes that people seem to eat at this time of year. The wings, dips, chilis, nachos, and of course the little football-shaped deviled eggs.
Who knows, maybe I’ll throw my own Super Bowl party down the road. It sounds like fun. I’ll just wear earplugs so that I won’t have to listen to the sound of football on TV. Am I the only one who feels this way? I’d watch golf over football any day. I don’t even golf, but I love the velvet hills, the soothing voices, and the conspicuous absence of sweat.
I was happily pinning some Asian-style glazed, sesame-speckled wings when I stopped mid-click. It hit me like a ton of bricks. What will the vegans eat? I feel some solidarity with them after my month of clean eating. Can a vegan not celebrate the Super Bowl too? This is an injustice. They/we?/they can’t eat any of this food! Even the salads are full of cream and cheese.
So I vowed on the spot to make something Super Bowl-worthy that could make the event a little more tolerable for the vegetable-inclined. It would be lip-smackingly good and of course, far more nutritious. The type of dish that anybody, not just vegans, could proudly bring to a Super Bowl party, spike on the checkered tablecloth, and announce “I MADE this!”
But what to make? The eggs, the wings, even the nachos – those were out. I’ve seen vegan nachos, and they don’t appeal to me; they’re missing the two crucial ingredients that are essential to any good nacho plate: real sour cream and melting cheddar cheese. If you want details about how to make the perfect nachos, click here.
But the chili, now we were getting somewhere….
Chili can be made with just about any protein you have on hand- beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and of course, beans. I’m not a huge fan of bean chilis though. They seem to lack something, a heartiness. Maybe I’m unfairly judging bean chilis based on my experience with a can of Amy’s. But I knew that bean chili – even a fancy 7-bean chili – wouldn’t cut it. Not to mention that you don’t want to be hanging around in a closed circulation room with a bunch of people who just ate their weight in beans.
But when I kicked off my vegan cleanse this month, I bought something at Whole Foods that was still sitting idle at the back of my fridge: Chorizo Tofu crumbles.
Chorizo is one of my favorite meats: I love the blend of spices – coriander, cumin, and paprika. I figured that with such heavy hitters in the spice category, the fact that my chili was tofu-based would be an afterthought.
I got to work prepping my ingredients. I always use a similar method for chili. Some veg, some meat, throw in the spices, a can of diced tomato in its juices, and let it simmer. Toss in the beans at the end, heat through and you’re done. Easy.
I was up to the challenge with tofu, how different could it be?
Verdict: a meat free chili that meat lovers will devour. It’s that good, trust me. I’m pretty sure that Tofurky has taken over Hormel and is making real pork chorizo sausage under the guise of tofu. That’s what it tastes like at least. In a good way…it’s meaty, flavorful, and frankly, in a blind taste test, I might not know the difference between a meat chili and my tofu version.
That’s a lie. I probably would, but that’s because I can taste the difference between a Goya black bean and a Whole Foods black bean. Let’s just say that I’ve been challenged to a blind taste test and I won. But it’s pretty hard to tell that it’s tofu, that’s for sure. It’s heavily seasoned, so you don’t need too many more ingredients to make the chili, making it easy to prepare.
Top with some avocado and homemade tortilla strips and you’re in vegan chili heaven. I swear by homemade tortilla strips, they’re thin, crispy and perfect for this dish – just slice some corn tortillas into strips, fry in about an inch of vegetable oil and season. It takes under 5 minutes and is worth the extra effort. By the way, use the remaining oil to fry anything you want – I went overboard and started frying everything in my fridge and on my counter – torn bread cubes, rosemary, shredded sweet potatoes. The sweet potato strips were especially good with the chili.
So whether you’re in the mood for some healthy comfort food this winter, or need a vegetarian/vegan-friendly dish to bring to your Super Bowl party, I hope you’ll enjoy it. Keep me posted…
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 12-oz package Tofurky Chorizo style tofu
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes in their juice
- 1 15.5oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- Cilantro sprigs
- Diced avocado
- Fried tortilla strips
- In a Dutch Oven, heat the oil on medium heat until it shimmers.
- Add the diced onion, and sautee until translucent.
- Add the Tofurky and the cumin, and sautee the mixture together for 1 minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes and their juice to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.
- As soon as it boils, cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and let the chili simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the black beans and simmer another 5 minutes until the beans have heated through.
- Taste for seasoning – my chili was already salty enough from the Tofurky and beans and didn’t need salt, but you might want to adjust with salt and pepper.
- Serve in bowls and offer the cilantro sprigs, diced avocado, and fried tortilla strips on the side, letting guests top as they please.