Vegan Chiliquiles

Chiliquiles are, I think, the original Nachos. The basic idea is some good stuff sautéed with corn chips mixed right in, as opposed to putting good stuff on top of corn chips. While not exactly the healthiest of recipes, it does have several selling points:

1. Very quick and easy to make.

2. Good as left-overs, so make a lot.
3. Tasty to meat-eaters (plenty of salt and fat, and familiar Mexican-food flavors).
4. Nice way to sneak some tofu into a tofu-hater’s diet.
5. Pretty much impossible to ruin.

I suspect this might be a great dish to serve to teenagers, but I can’t prove that anymore than I can prove that Nachos are the descendents of Chiliquiles.

I first had Chiliquiles a few months ago and I was dreading the experience—I was sure I wouldn’t like them, but determined to be polite and eat a little bit. Three servings later I was embarrassing myself. That was the high-fat vegan version. Since then I have made a McDougall (fat-free) vegan version several times and it’s close enough to satisfy my cravings.

Vegan Chiliquiles, Splurge version

3 Tb oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 block fresh, firm tofu—rinsed, patted dry and crumbled with your (clean) hands
1 bag Bearitos corn chips
1 bottle of Pace Picante salsa, not chunky

In a large pot, sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat for 4 minutes.

Add the tofu, sauté for about 4 minutes.

Add the chips and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes (don’t let it burn). The chips will soften.

Stir in the bottle of salsa, cook for 1-2 minutes until dish is hot, and serve. You should at least try to serve with a vegetable and salad—I mean really.

Next, if you’re not an endorphin-addicted, overly-competitive athlete and you can’t eat 5# of fat and salt at once sitting, try my replacement recipe. I’m giving you the very basic idea but every time I make it I add something different. Remember, this is not a delicate dish so get creative!

Vegan Chiliquiles, Eat Every Day and Be Happy Version
1 cup of water or vegetable stock or white wine—approximately
1 yellow onion, diced
2 zucchinis, diced
1 package of fat-free fresh corn tortillas, cut or torn into 2” strips
1 can chickpeas (my favorite) or kidney or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 jar of your favorite organic, low-sodium salsa

In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup of the liquid and then sauté the onion and zucchini for about 5 minutes. If it gets too dry, add a tablespoon or more of the liquid.

Add the tortillas and beans and another 1/4 cup liquid, cook for at least five minutes—the tortillas strips will soften.

Add the salsa, heat through, add more liquid and/or salt if you need it, and voila.

I have added (at the end) cooked quinoa or cooked rice, which I almost always have on hand. That made it even more filling and yummy. I have also used fresh chopped tomatoes, garlic and cilantro instead of pre-made salsa. It’s easy to add other fresh veggies to the pot, as well as extra spice if you like heat.

Serve with a salad, guacamole, and a side of fresh green veggies unless you’ve put those in the dish itself.

One more extra: Put the finished dish into a glass Pyrex plate and cover with grated Follow Your Heart vegan cheese. Then bake for 5 minutes or so, until the cheese is soft and warm.


  1. Chaco [Visitor] says:

    The correct spelling is: chilaquiles.

    The name chilaquiles is derived from the Nahuatl word chil-a-quilitl which means “herbs or greens in chile broth”.

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