April 10, 2011

Chili sin Carne (con frijoles!)

Tacos with chili con frijoles
Tacos with chili con frijoles

Chili con frijoles
Chili con frijoles

In my never-ending quest to satiate my Mexican food hunger cravings, I scoured the Leuven library to check out some Mexican cookbooks. I adapted a recipe from Tacos and Tortillas by Thea Spierings to be vegetarian and include more taco-esque ingredients. Cookbooks with simple pictures do loads to help with language learning.

If you've never had bean-based tacos I would highly recommend trying this. When I taught cooking classes, I often taught how to prepare simple healthy foods, encouraged trying new foods, and helped plan meals to make the most out of food budgets. In prepping tacos, I would recommend cutting half the beef with beans to improve nutritional content and extend food dollars. A lot of meals I taught revolved around beans – beans are high in protein, fiber, and nutrition. Beans cooked from scratch are dirt cheap (although they do take some planning), and they have a long shelf life. Canned beans can be very cheap, and require no cooking (besides heat and eat). The bean filling can be used in tacos, quesadillas, burritos, or served alongside some rice.

Chili sin Carne (con frijoles!)
Serves 4-6
1 tbsp olive oil
½ block of frozen tofu, defrosted and chopped fine (optional)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped or mixture of red, yellow, or green bell peppers
1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2, 14 oz cans pinto beans (or mixture kidney and pinto), rinsed and drained, or 1 and ½ cups soaked pinto beans prepared with the soak and cook method
1, 6 or 8 oz can pineapple chunks in their own syrup, rinsed and drained
2-3 tbsp hot chili sauce
1 pack of taco shells

Fix-ins for tacos:
2 cups shredded lettuce
salsa (like this really yummy chipotle salsa)
black olives
chopped tomatoes or bell peppers
sour cream
avocado chunks or guacomole

  1. Heat up olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. If using tofu, add it in and stir fry until golden brown. Once golden, remove from pan and then add in onions and bell pepper. Continue to cook 5-7 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. Stir in jalapeno and garlic. Season with a bit of salt.
  4. Add in pinto beans, tofu (if using), pineapple chunks, and hot chili sauce. Stir to combine until heated through. Meanwhile, place taco shells on a pan and heat up until hot.
  5. Set out taco fix-ins on a counter and serve immediately.   


  1. If it's got pineapple chunks, it must be a Belgian-Mexican recipe :) Looks tasty enough though. I like your plug for bean-based chilis for nutritional value. Definitely an advantage, but I also like them because of flavor profile & that they're more "filling". Allison's fool-proof chili is actually pretty heavy on the beans (50-50) - and I think that's why I like it so much.

    When I read that you found this recipe in a library book, I immediately thought: why would anyone do that in today's Internet age, where the web is exploding with good recipes... and then I realized: you were scouring Flemish books to sharpen your language skills. Smart!

  2. I agree with the food having such an online presence, but sometimes cookbooks end up being my crutch. I would recommend the pineapple in this - it was really good.