My sister, Francine, is visiting from Seattle and I wanted to make something special for dinner that would really impress her. Not too long ago, she mentioned a recipe she had seen on TV but was “too lazy to make” called Frito Pie. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, Fritos are under questionable Kosher supervision so we improvised by buying every available bag of kosher corn chip on the market. I chose to make a vegetarian chili so I could enjoy some real cheese verses making a meat chili with fake cheese. What a waste that would have been! The rest really speaks for itself so check it out.

Vegetarian Chili Ingredients
this recipe makes a lot of chili so you can cut the ingredients in half. I like to freeze the extra chili. 

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 white onions, chopped
36 oz veggie protein crumbles (3 pkg. Lightlife Smart Ground)
4 Tbsp ground cumin
3 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp chili jalapeno powder
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp bloody mary seasoning
1 tsp zhug- hot dipping blend
15 oz can black beans, salt free
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
15 oz can diced tomatoes

Frito Pie Ingredients
recipe below is for one portion

1 bag corn chips
1 cup vegetarian chili
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
candied jalapeno slices (optional)
chopped raw white onions (optional)
sour cream (optional)

I heated the olive oil and added the chopped onions. After stirring for a minutes, I added the protein crumbles and stirred to combine with the onions. You want the onions to remain crunchy.

I added all of the spices and stirred to combine. It seems like a lot of spices but you are not only adding flavor to the “meat” but also to the sauce you will be adding soon. You want the crumbles to take on a pasty texture.

Once the crumbles were warmed through and paste-like, I added the black beans, crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes and stirred. At this point, I suggest tasting the chili to make sure the flavors are right for you. You can always add more of your favorite spices at this point. Then I covered the pot and simmered the chili for 30 minutes. Check out this picture of the chili! Doesn’t it look like a real meat chili? You could fool anyone with this recipe.

Now comes the fun part! We are going to turn this vegetarian chili in to a “Frito” Pie! As I mentioned above, Frito corn chips are not Kosher so I bought individual size bags of Kosher corn chips. You are welcome to use whatever brand you want. One option for this pie is to pour the corn chips in to a bowl than add the toppings but the traditional method is to eat right out of the bag. Just make sure your corn chips bag isn’t plastic or the hot chili will melt right through. Since the chili is vegetarian, I was able to choose my favorite cheese to top the corn chip pie so I shredded my favorites: jalapeno cilantro and chipotle cheddar. You can use whatever cheddar you like!

I chose the traditional corn chip route and Francine went with the Enchilada tortilla chips. We spooned on a heap of the chili, then a layer of cheese and chopped candied jalapeno. Francine also added a dollop of sour cream to balance the heat from the chili and jalapeno. Every bite of this “Frito” pie brought out a new flavor and texture and I savored every bite! First the heat of the jalapeno and chili, then the crunch of the onions and the creaminess of the cheese, and ending with the saltiness of the corn chips. You can make this dish with any chip, any cheese and any chili so I hope you give it a chance!