Smokin' Hot Vegan Vaquero Chili and Vegan Cornbread

6 years ago


Many of us are resolving to begin the new year with healthier diets.  I have resolved to serve more vegetarian and vegan meals to my family this year and forever.  Today happens to be National Bean Day, so what better meal to serve than a smoky, spicy chili with some special and beautiful beans?

I recently discovered the beautiful Vaquero beans from Rancho Gordo.  For those of you unfamiliar with the brilliant products offered by Rancho Gordo, it is a Napa, California company owned by Steve Sando, who is dedicated to preserving heirloom beans from the New World/Latin America.

Vaquero beans, also known as Orca beans, are a playful black and white, looking to me like a cow.  Rancho Gordo describes them as a cousin to the Anasazi bean.  They’re fun to cook with, because even after cooking and giving off an inky pot liquor, they maintain their dappled markings.  They're perfect for a meatless chili suitable for cowboys and cowgirls, and safe for cows, too. If you have trouble obtaining these lovely beans, pinto beans make a fine, though less exciting, substitute.


I serve this cow-friendly chili with cornbread, natch, and in keeping with my vegan, plant-based theme (sure to be unrecognizable by Texans), I am using an excellent recipe from Isa Chandra of the PostPunkKitchen.



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Smokin’ Hot Vegan Vaquero Chili 

Serves: 4-6


8 oz dried Vaquero beans, soaked overnight

1 14.5 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes

1-2 chipotles in adobo, finely diced

1/2 onion, finely diced

1/2 bell pepper, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne

5 cups water

salt to taste

optional garnishes: chopped cilantro, shredded cheese


1.  After beans have been soaked, drain from soaking liquid and set aside.

2.  Prepare all vegetables and fry in a heavy pot with a tablespoon of canola oil.  Stir and fry for about 5 minutes until vegetables have softened.

3.  Add cumin and cayenne and fry for another minute.

4.  Add beans, tomatoes, water and oregano, and bring to a boil.  Then lower heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until beans are soft.

5.  Add salt to taste.

6.  Ladle into bowls and top with garnishes, if desired.  Serve with cornbread (recipe follows).


*    *     *

Vegan Cornbread

from The Post Punk Kitchen, by Isa Chandra

Makes 12 to 16 squares


2 cups cornmeal

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 cups soymilk

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt


1.  Preheat oven to 350, line a 9×13 baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soymilk and the vinegar and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt).

4. Add the oil and maple syrup to the soymilk mixture. Whisk with a wire whisk  until it is foamy and bubbly, about 2 minutes.

5.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together using a large wooden spoon or a firm spatula. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Slice into squares and serve warm or store in an airtight container.


-Linda, Spicebox Travels 

Follow me on Twitter @spiceboxtravels

Join me on Twitter for #LetsLunch today for some other tasty and creative chili recipes.



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