Tempeh never ceases to amaze me with its versatility and chameleon-like ability to absorb and take on different flavors.
Whether it’s the spicy zest of chimichurri or red hot of Frank’s, tempeh proves time and again that it can stand up to the culinary task. That’s why I turned to it when preparing a slow cooker vegan chili in anticipation of the Blizzard of 2015 (and plan to make it again for Superbowl Sunday).
Tempeh is a reliable team member and never disappoints. Vegetarian chili is one thing, but protein packed tempeh vegan chili is another. Add some seasonal root vegetables, beans, and spices, and you have a hearty, filling chili even meat eaters will down by the next down (I couldn’t help myself..)
This slow cooker tempeh chili is packed with a colorful medley of root vegetables – beets, turnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots – and the combination of earthy and sweet flavors results in a meatless chili with a surprising depth of flavor.
The earthiness of the beets and rutabagas plays against the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes, the cinnamon-y taste of the parsnips dancing in between. The turnips (er, referee?) balance the two contrasting sides with a subtle flavor.
When preparing the chili, I layered all the root vegetables on the bottom of the slow cooker to give them a jump start on the cooking process.
Cubed tempeh on top of the vegetables comes next, followed by vegetable broth and a can of diced tomatoes. Kidney beans and black beans, which don’t need much cooking at all, were last on the pile.
After two hours, I added half the seasoning and gave the chili a good stir. Even on the Low slow cooker setting, the root vegetables already started to soften.
To ensure the spices weren’t dulled in the cooking process, I added the remaining half towards the tail end of cooking four hours later.
After a total of six hours on Low, the root vegetables were tender, the tempeh soft, and the whole texture of the chili like a velvety stew.
As a final garnish, I topped the chili with a handful of Daiya cheddar style shreds (which melt wonderfully), a dollop of vegan sour cream, and chopped parsley.
If you are serving those who prefer not to eat fully vegan, you can certainly swap out the ingredients mentioned above for regular cheddar shreds and sour cream (or Greek yogurt). You can tell them about the tempeh later…
I would love to hear from you. What is your favorite slow cooker dish? What are you serving on Superbowl Sunday?
- 2 cups peeled and cubed rutabagas
- 2 cups peeled and cubed turnips
- 2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
- 2 cups peeled and cubed parsnips
- 1 cup peeled and cubed carrots
- 1 cup peeled and cubed beets
- 1 cup ½" diced yellow onion
- 8 oz gluten-free tempeh, rinsed and cubed
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed
- 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed
- 1 tsp kosher sea salt, divided
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper, divided
- 1 tsp chili powder, divided
- 1 tsp ground cumin, divided
- ½ tsp paprika, divided
- ½ tsp nutmeg, divided
- 1 cup vegan sour cream, for garnish
- 1 cup Daiya cheddar cheese shreds, for garnish
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Peel and cut the vegetables into ½" cubes. Try and make sure to cut all the pieces the same size so they cook evenly. Add to a large bowl and toss to combine.
- Add the vegetables to the bottom of a slower cooker. Rinse and cut the tempeh into ½" cubes, then layer on top of the vegetables. Pour the cup of vegetable broth and 28oz can of diced tomatoes over the tempeh. Add the two cans of rinsed beans on top of the tomatoes.
- Cover and set the slow cooker to Low. After two hours, add HALF the seasoning and stir to combine all the ingredients. Replace the cover and continue to cook for an additional four hours.
- After a total of six hours, stir in the other half of the seasoning. If the vegetables are tender and the tempeh soft, turn the slower cooker down to warm and serve the chili. If not, cook on Low for an additional hour.
- Portion the chili into large bowls. Add desired amount of Daiya cheddar style shreds on top of the hot chili. Dollop a spoonful of vegan sour cream on top of the cheddar. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Serve immediately