When I bought the ingredients for this recipe, the cashier at the grocery store commented, “Now, that’s what I call the right ratio of chiles to tomatillos.” I told him, “If you’re gonna do it, then do it.” He probably didn’t realize that I was going to cook up a vegan version of chili verde inspired by the Northern Mexican classic. Nevertheless, this is one flavorful Mexican-inspired stew.
Vegan chili verde is one of my all time favorite meals. It’s easy to make, has a complex flavor, and is so delicious. I find myself thinking about it all the time. When I lived in California’s Bay Area, my favorite place to get vegan chili verde was San Jose’s Good Karma. I probably ate it once a week. Then, I started making it myself. My first attempts weren’t bad, but they could have been better. In fact, the recipe that follows is a revised version of a previous recipe. I think this version is a way tastier vegan chili verde, and I hope that you find that as well!
If you are sensitive to the heat from chiles, completely removing the seeds will make the sauce very mild, especially the jalapeños. Poblanos are a very mild chile, so it is less important to remove their seeds. For reference, the jalapeño is about five times hotter than a poblano.
If you have never used tomatillos before, they ooze as they are grilling or roasting. I like to use a shallow pan to do either activity, because it keeps the tomatillo’s sticky juices right where I want them (ready to go in a sauce!).
For a variation, you can make this recipe using only seitan (store bought or homemade) or using only shredded young jackfruit, but I like the way they work together. It’s heartier and adds to the overall texture. If you want to make this gluten free, omit the seitan and add three 14 ounce cans of young shredded jackfruit.
There are many ways to enjoy chili verde. In some tacos, inside a burrito, as a side to tofu huevas rancheros, over a baked potato, over a sweet potato, cooked down (to evaporate more liquid) and used as a filling for vegan tamales, on top of some loaded nachos, or simply with a nice bowl of brown rice. I’m hungry just thinking about it!
Slow Cooker Vegan Chili Verde
2 lbs (OR ~20) tomatillos, husks removed, rinsed and sliced in half
1-2 whole jalapeños, stem removed (If sensitive to heat, remove the seeds as well)
5-6 poblanos, stems removed and sliced in half (these are very mild chiles – see note above. If concerned about the heat they contribute, remove the seeds)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
4 whole garlic cloves
Olive oil, to drizzle
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
1 ½ Tbsp red miso paste
1 ½ Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (OR gluten free tamari)
½ cup water
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp onion powder
16 ounces of seitan, cut into chunks (see note above – if you want to make this recipe gluten free)
14 ounce can of young jackfruit, drained and rinsed
1. TO GRILL: Line a large, shallow, grill-proof pan with non-stick aluminum foil. Spread the tomatillos, jalapeño(s), poblanos, onion, and garlic in a single layer across the pan. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Grill at ~450 F for about 20 minutes, checking often. The tomatillos and chiles should have a char on them, because that will add to the flavor. Once they reach a level of char that looks good to you, remove from the grill and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. TO ROAST: Preheat oven to BROIL on HIGH. Line a large, shallow pan with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. Spread the tomatillos, jalapeño(s), poblanos, onion and garlic in a single layer across the pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Once the oven is hot enough, put pan in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the outer skin of the tomatillos is blackened. Remove from oven and cool for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the grilled/roasted vegetables to a blender. Then, add the cilantro, red miso, soy sauce, water, cumin, and onion powder. Pulse until mostly smooth.
3. Add the seitan and jackfruit to a slow cooker. Pour the sauce from the blender over the seitan and jackfruit, and mix together. If it isn’t “saucy” enough for you, add another ½ cup of water. Secure the lid, and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours. Serve with rice, on tacos, in burritos, on top of nachos, or over a sweet potato.