Meatiest Vegan Chili Recipe + Chili Cook-off Tips

Last week, our church had a chili cook-off that benefited their mission teams and the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapters. There were over 30 types of chili featured! It was a fun and successful event. There was great food, a silent auction, and a live auction.

I submitted this chili recipe. It's a nice medium-heat chili, filled with flavor and good ingredients. My husband came up with the name "Meatiest Vegan Chili" because he said that it will keep people guessing, haha. I didn't call it that during the event, but that will be forever what this recipe is called. He even said that he couldn't tell the difference between this and regular chili. It looked and tasted legit.

This recipe is a variation on my Slow Cooker Beer Chili recipe from last winter. Each recipe has similar bones. I went beerless this time, but added some chopped okra to make it a true southern dish. I have to admit -- I love okra in the chili! The slow cooking takes the "slime" away, so give it a try. Although "meat" crumbles aren't necessary, they do make the dish look authentic. I went with Quorn meat crumbles because they are soy-free and gluten-free. (And I personally think that Quorn products taste better than their meatless counterparts.)

You can make this chili in a heavy-bottomed pot or in the slow cooker.  The slow cooker is my favorite! Use a 6 quart pot if you're choosing that option.

Meatiest Vegan Chili Recipe
2 28-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, preferably organic (or 4-5 cups chopped fresh tomatoes)
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 15-ounce cans of beans, your choice (I used pinto, black, and kidney)
3-4 T. chili powder
2 tsp. ancho chili powder
1 c. corn kernels, preferably organic/non-GMO
2 c. okra, chopped
2 T. cumin
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried parsley
1/2 T. dried basil
salt & pepper, to taste (start with 1 tsp. of each)
1 bag of Quorn brand frozen meat crumbles

Drain your beans in a colander and rinse them in the sink.  If you are using dry beans, make sure they are soaked and ready to go.

It's so easy: add all of your ingredients into your pot or slow cooker.  Stir it a few times.  If you're using a slow cooker, cook the mixture on low for about 7 hours; high for 4 hours.  If you're cooking it on the stove top, cook it over medium heat for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

There you have it folks!  This recipe is delicious and simple.  Each time you make it, you can change it and make many variations.  Add squash, carrots, zucchini -- It's never the same twice.

Now, for some quick tips for chili cook-offs:
1. This may be a little controversial, but I wouldn't label it "veggie" or "vegan" chili. People are biased and may not eat your chili just because it's not traditional. But we both know how delicious vegan chili tastes. And, by the looks of this chili, you honestly can't tell it doesn't have meat. Like my husband said, he honestly wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

2. If you get to choose the location of your chili, choose the front of the line. While this was my second chili cook off, I didn't get to choose the location my first time. I got there early enough, so I had my pick of the spots. There were over 30 kinds of chili on the line, so the people loaded up on the ones at the front of the line and didn't have room for ones near the end.

3. Bring toppings or sides if you can. My most popular item at the cook-off? This Beer Bread! It was devoured. It's easy to make and a pleasure to eat. I also brought some fresh chopped cilantro for the side too. Some people love it, some people hate it -- so I let them put their own on top. Also, remember to bring little signs labeling the beer bread and other items. People like to know what they're eating.

Let me know how your next chili cook-off goes and enjoy this recipe :-)