Vegan Chili Fries with Avocado Cream
An epic version of healthy vegan chili fries. Crispy fries two ways (regular and sweet potato) tossed with flavorful spices. Topped with an easy spicy and smoky chili, and drizzled with an indulgent avocado cream. Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
Earlier this month, a couple dear friends flew into town for a ski trip. Anguel and I took the opportunity to head up to Whistler for the weekend to see them – because now that we live on the other side of the country, visits like these are all too rare. It was a pretty sweet weekend filled with fresh snow, lots of food, and plenty of laughs. There were definitely moments when it felt like nothing had changed. It was like we were all back together again – living in the same shared downtown apartment, spending a disproportionate amount of our weekend chatting with food and drink in hand. We missed you, friends.
This recipe was inspired by the quick lunch we enjoyed on our ski day. Whistler/Blackcomb is a beastly mountain, and the food options are plentiful. The prices are a bit egregious – but hey, I guess we're all willing to pay a premium for some warm food and respite from the snow, even if it's served on a cafeteria tray. Chili is a classic choice, of course. And since there was a vegetarian chili on the menu, we were most definitely down. Our group also shared a single order of fries, which we took turns dipping into our respective bowls of chili. I can’t' recall the last time I had chili fries prior, but that day's combination of crispy potato goodness put them back on my radar. Fast forward to the Superbowl, and I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Apparently a bunch of you liked it too, so I decided this one should go up on the blog.
Chili fries are known to be indulgent, ridiculous and downright dirtyy. They fulfill a lot of cravings – starchy potatoes turned into crisp fries, a warm hearty chili keeping everything cozy, and then a fun sprinkling of toppings to finish it all off. My version is vegan. It's a whole heck of a lot healthier than regular chili fries: the fries are baked, chili is loaded with bean-y protein, and the avocado cream provides a hint of creaminess (without any actual cream). The end result is a heck of a lot healthier – and so flavorful! So, when you demolish a bowl of this for dinner…there's no need to get upset about it. In fact, you'll probably be pretty pleased with yourself.
The chili itself is pretty straightforward to pull together. I have a few more elaborate chilis up my sleeve, but I opted for a simple one in this dish. It brings the smokiness and spice, without requiring a ton of specialty vegetables / spices. In fact, I bet you'll have most of these ingredients in your pantry! The exception is probably the chipotle peppers, which add a great amount of depth to this dish. Not to worry though, canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce are pretty easy to find. Just check the ethnic / Mexican section of your regular grocery store.
I call these "party fries" for a couple reasons. Mostly because it's a bunch of regular potato + sweet potato fries, all tossed together in yummy spices. And second, because they're a lot of fun to serve at parties. Apparently I'm not the only one sick of choosing between "regular fries" or "sweet potato fries" on a menu. Why choose when you can have both?! The recipe is adapted from my Spiced Sweet Potato Fries recipe. The coating of rice flour and spices helps deliver and extra punch of flavor while helping imitate the crispiness one would get from a deep fryer. I know it seems a bit crazy to insist on spreading the fries out into a single layer of non-touching fries, but it’s a method that's never failed me. Do it for the crispy fry, ok?
Plating up the chili fries is a lot of fun. A generous drizzle of the avocado cream adds a pop of color to the dish. We typically sprinkle jalapeno slices, chopped cilantro, vegan sour cream, and a slice of lime on top. You can use store bought sour cream, or make your own. I included the recipe for the vegan sour cream we usually make at home. It's adapted from The Oh She Glows Cookbook. Serve this dish immediately and get your fork ready – your vegan chili fries dreams are about to come true!
VEGAN CHILI FRIES WITH AVOCADO CREAM
SERVES 4 (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)
Easy chipotle chili:
1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed)
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced*
1 can diced tomatoes (28 fl oz/796 ml)
2 cans kidney beans (14 oz/398 ml per can), strained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons cumin
3 chipotle peppers, minced**
3 bay leaves
Salt & pepper, to taste
Spiced party fries:
1 3/4 lb/795 g potatoes (combination of russet + sweet potatoes)
2 tablespoons neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed)
3 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice (1-2 limes)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
~1/4 cup water
Vegan Sour Cream (recipe below or use store-bought)
Jalapeno peppers, sliced
Easy chipotle chili:
In a stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add diced white onion. Cook for ~3 minutes until onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and jalapeno and sautee for another 2 minutes.
Add diced tomatoes to the stockpot. Using the back of your spoon (or a potato masher), give the diced tomatoes a very quick mash. Mashing some of the tomatoes helps create a thicker sauce, but be sure to keep some tomato chunks for texture. Then add kidney beans, vegetable stock, tomato paste, cumin, chipotle peppers and bay leaves. Stir to mix. Bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and reduce heat. Let the chili simmer while you prepare your other ingredients (~30-40 minutes).
When it is time to serve, remove lid and check on the chili. The chili should be fairly thick for serving with fries. If it has a bit too much moisture, simmer uncovered for another 5-10 minutes until some of the liquid has evaporated. If too thick, add a bit more water to thin it out. Remove bay leaves before serving. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Spiced party fries:
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Slice potatoes into long, thin fry-sized strips (~1/4"-1/2" wide). Rinse sliced potatoes under cold water for 1 minute. Toss the pieces around to ensure each one gets a good rinse. Strain well. Pour fries out onto a clean kitchen towel, and use the towel to dry the fries thoroughly. Then move the fries to two non-stick baking sheets. Pour oil over the fries and toss on the baking sheet to cover fries evenly.
In a small bowl, combine rice flour, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. Stir to mix. Pour spice mixture over the fries (split across two baking sheets). Use your hands to toss the fries. Ensure each fry is covered with seasoning. Spread fries out on the baking sheet. You want a single, even layer of fries without any overlapping fries, for crispness.
Bake for ~30 minutes, until fries are golden brown. Flip fries half way through the baking process for even browning. Once cooked, season with salt to taste.
In a blender, combine avocado, lime juice, garlic powder, salt and water. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a bit more water. Blend until smooth and airy.
Place a generous pile of fries on the bottom. Then top with chili and avocado cream. Add desired garnishes (Vegan Sour Cream, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, lime) and serve warm.
*If you want a milder chili, use 1 jalapeno pepper (de-seeded). For a spicier chili, add 1-2 jalapeno peppers (including the seeds).
**Look for canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, usually found in near the ethnic / Mexican ingredients. For this recipe, you'll use 3 whole peppers (excluding sauce).
VEGAN SOUR CREAM
(VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)
1/2 cup cashews (soaked 4-12 hours)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Rinse and strain soaked cashews. Add cashews to a blender, along with water, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and salt. Blend until smooth. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a bit more water.
Sour Cream recipe adapted from Angela Liddon ("Cashew Cream", The Oh She Glows Cookbook)