The vegan child was hungry and the grocery store was too far away on a Friday night. Although we have lots of up-all-night markets I … just … didn’t … want … to … go. It was FRIDAY, the end of the work week, and ok ok ok I was being lazy so I had to rely on the staples and the overlooked “that doesn’t sound good” food we had on hand. But laziness inspires creativity and I was d-e-t-e-r-m-i-n-e-d not to leave this house.
And I didn’t. Oh snap.
So here’s what you need for a savory, filling, easy meal inspired by my companion, Sloth. For my vegetarian and omnivore friends, please see the Veg & Omni ingredients list. I only give alternates instead of the entire list.
4 quart casserole dish
Medium mixing bowls
Food processor, blender, pastry blender, or fine mesh sieve
Your favorite vegetable-chopping knife
A couple of spoons for mixing
1 box Jiffy Corn Muffin mix (Or use 1 c. cornmeal and 1 tsp. baking powder)
2 Tbsp. your favorite oil
¾ c. unflavored almond milk
¼ c. tofu, pureed (If you don’t have a food processor or blender, puree by pushing through a fine mesh sieve or use a pastry blender. It won’t be as smooth but it’s really not going to matter for this recipe.
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, optional
Savory white bean filling:
1-1/2 c. cooked white beans, with ¼ c.(ish) of the cooking juice
4 Roma tomatoes, chopped or sliced (These are going in the food processor if you have one so don’t knock yourself out unless you’re food-processor-free.)
¼ c. water
¼ c. salsa (You can make your own but Sloth said to use the jarred stuff in the fridge.)
1 c. cooked jasmine rice, white or brown
¼ of a sweet onion, chopped small
1/8 c. to ¼ c. nutritional yeast IF YOU HAVE IT. If you don’t, no biggie. This gives it a cheesier flavor and aroma without adding cheese. It doesn’t contribute to the matter of cooking since it’s deactivated, although it is a very healthy add-in. It is a complete protein and full of B vitamins.
1/3 c. frozen corn
3 – 6 Tbsp taco seasoning, depending on how spicy you are (You can make your own … but I? No. Lazy.)
Alternate Topping Ingredients for Veg & Omni:
Instead of ¾ c. almond milk, use ¾ c. regular milk plus 1 Tbsp of your favorite syrup; and although it’s my favorite syrup, chocolate probably won’t work here. Try for a maple-esque flavor. Or use molasses.
Instead of tofu puree, use 1 egg
Alternate Filling Ingredients for Veg & Omni:
Instead of 1/8 to ¼ c. nutritional yeast, use grated cheese. Sharp cheddar would be great. Cottage would be incredible.
If I weren’t so lazy, I’d tell you how to make taco seasoning and salsa. Heck, I’d even tell you how to make cottage cheese. But another day. Maybe you can experiment and tell me YOUR favorite taco seasoning and salsa recipes! That would make my life easier and I would be eternally grateful.
This recipe is already super-easy to make, but it’s even easier if you use convenience ingredients like canned corn (drained), canned beans (kind of drained), canned tomatoes (not drained at all), and instant rice (put it in uncooked, and cut the measure down ½ cup so that when it cooks and expands it doesn’t dry out your filling).
If you make the topping with cornmeal and baking soda instead of a boxed mix, make it as runny as pancake batter so that it doesn’t overcook the topping and undercook the filling. Because I have food texture issues I prefer to use the Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix rather than cornmeal because it’s not as gritty. The premade stuff has more sodium and preservatives than the stuff you make at home but I’m in my late forties and am so full of preservatives by now that it’s probably the glue that’s holding me together. I highly recommend it.
Here are the directions for this dish the way I made it. If you change up the ingredients you may have to tweak the cooking time a little bit. Just keep an eye on it and you’ll be fine!
Preheat your oven to 325. Kind of low, yes, but you want the cornbread topping to have time to cook and the chili to have time to heat through and soften those onions.
- Pour all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Mix well, set aside. The batter will probably be slightly lumpy. Don’t try to stir all the lumps out because it will make your topping too dry. All you have to do is get the biggest lumps out so you don’t bite into a dusty cornmeal ball.
White bean filling:
- After you chop up the tomatoes in the food processor (make them as fine or as chunky as you like), add the water in the chimney thingie and process a little more until the water is incorporated.
- Pour the tomatoes in a mixing bowl and add everything else, and mix until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
- Cheese option: you can either incorporate the cheese throughout the chili OR you can use it as a layer on top of the chili. (Note that if you are using nutritional yeast, leaving it as a layer on top of the filling would probably be gross. Mix it in.)
Put it all together it spells YUMMY!
- Put the chili in the casserole dish.
- Pour the cornbread batter over the top, and use the back of a spoon or a spatula to make it cover all the chili.
- Put it in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the topping is golden and makes a sound if you tap it. “Bloop” is sound too, but if you hear “bloop” you probably need to cook it a little longer until is says “tap, tap, tap.” Lava topping hurts when you eat it. My oven is temperamental and sometimes it takes longer, and sometimes it takes less time, so I am not sure of an exact cooking time. To be on the safe side, check on it periodically starting around 45 minutes.
- If you are using the vegetarian / omnivore version of this recipe, when the crust is nice and brown and sturdy, rub it with butter and let it cook another minute or so. You will be very glad you did. (I didn’t, since it was for the vegan child, and it was still dang fab.)
This seems like a lot of writing and instructing for something that was so easy to make, or maybe I’m just ridiculously verbose. This savory upside down tart really is a simple thing to make. I made it Friday after a day at work and a long commute, and the only time it made me cry was when I wept for joy at the flavor. (Yeah, not really, but I love the exaggeration.) The pairing of the sweet topping and the spicy white bean mixture is nothing short of delightful.