By Ashley Melillo of Blissful Basil
If you’re looking for a fuss-free, plant-based chili that even meat-lovers will adore, you’ve met your match.
This easy vegan chili requires just 15 minutes of active preparation, and then you can sit back, relax, and occasionally give it a stir as it simmers away on your stove.
It’s the ideal meal to have stewing in the background on a lazy fall or winter weekend afternoon while you binge-watch your latest Netflix obsession or cheer on your home team on game day.
It’s hearty, surprisingly meaty, and satisfying for vegans and non-vegans alike.
This chili gets its meatless meatiness from walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes that have been pulsed into a crumble. This meat-like base is then sautéed with onion, roasted red peppers, stewed tomatoes, black beans, and classic chili spices.
A spoonful of tamari (or soy sauce) adds an enticing umami quality and depth while a small drizzle of maple syrup mellows the acidity of the tomatoes.
Of course, no chili is complete without a generous handful of toppings. We love cherry tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, and crushed tortilla chips.
But this is your vegan chili adventure, so feel free to get creative. Consider adding sliced avocado, pickled jalapeños, or a swirled dollop of dairy-free sour cream.
Like many of the greatest chilis, this one is even better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to mingle and meld. This is excellent news, because it means you can enjoy it on the weekend and reheat it for an effortless and soul-soothing meatless Monday meal.
As written, this recipe is naturally vegan and grain-free. We’ve also included notes on how to adapt it to be soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, and kid-friendly. The vegan chili that keeps on giving!
We hope you love this one as much as we do.
Spicy Black Bean Red Pepper Walnut Chili
Serves 4 to 6 | Active time: 15 minutes; Simmer: 1 hour; Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
vegan, grain-free, gluten-free option, nut-free option, soy-free option
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow or red onion, diced
1 (12-ounce jar) roasted red peppers, drained and diced
1 cup raw walnut pieces*
3 ounces no-salt-added, dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes**
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder (reduce to 1 ½ tablespoons if you’re cooking for little ones)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste (omit if you’re cooking for little ones)
2 (14-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups filtered water
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce***
1/2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Halved cherry tomatoes
Fresh cilantro, stemmed
Crushed tortilla chips
Vegan sour cream
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften.
Meanwhile, add the walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes to a food processor and pulse 30 times, or until roughly minced and crumbly. Transfer to the stockpot along with the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, sea salt, coriander, and cayenne.
Decrease the heat to medium-low and sauté for 3 minutes, or until the spices are wafting a rich, toasted scent, stirring frequently.
Add the stewed tomatoes and the water, increase the heat to medium, and bring to a rolling simmer, using a spoon to thoroughly crush the tomatoes to the desired size as they heat.
Add the black beans, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the tamari and maple syrup, and decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover, leaving the lid askew, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Cover completely, reduce the heat to low, and continue to simmer for at least another 30 minutes but preferably 45 minutes or longer, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
Taste and season with more salt, if desired.
Ladle into bowls, layer on the toppings, and settle in with this comforting plant-powered chili.
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
*No nuts? No problem. Use raw shelled sunflower seeds instead of walnuts to keep this dish nut-free.
**California Sun-Dry brand offers a "smoked" version of their sun-dried tomatoes that's excellent in this chili (not sponsored, just a recommendation)!
***No gluten? No problem. Use tamari to keep this dish gluten-free.
***No soy? No problem. Use coconut aminos instead of tamari/soy sauce to keep this dish soy-free.