Comfort Food

Halfway Homemade Cheesy, Vegan Chili Fries

September 13, 2016

We partnered with Amy's to show off Gena Hamshaw's ideas and recipes for how to use their products in simple and flavorful vegan snacks.

When I hear the words “comfort food,” what comes to mind is usually a dish that has been created lovingly, with care—which is to say, not very quickly. I think about casseroles and other baked fare, pies with homemade crust, that sort of thing. To me, a comfort food dish is one that’s something of a project, and the final results feel all the sweeter and more meaningful because time has been spent.

But why, really, should comfort food have to be laborious? Sure, there’s something to be said for lasagnas and enchiladas and other dishes that do require time and attention, but some of the speediest dishes can be mighty comforting, too (pasta with sautéed greens, a bowl of stir fried rice, noodle soup). Lately, I’m expanding my idea of comfort food to include these kinds of quick, nourishing homemade meals, and I’m also rethinking how I approach the more traditional comfort food classics, considering ways in which I might make them just a little more efficient.

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One way, of course, is to pair homemade components with a couple of handy, store-bought items. And that’s the trick underlying these hearty, spicy vegan sweet potato chili fries. I love the idea of chili fries, but it’s not often that I have the energy to prepare a pot of bean chili from scratch, crispy fries, and a vegan cheese sauce; it seems, honestly, like too many steps.

Here, use of pre-made vegan chili and a quick and easy blender sauce for the “cheesy” topping ensures that the fries come together without too much fuss. As soon as your fries are done getting crispy in the oven, you can assemble them quickly and serve them to your hungry friends. To make the process even faster, you can prepare the queso sauce up to three days in advance.

White potatoes are the traditional base for chili fries, and if that’s your thing, feel free to use four medium-sized russet potatoes in place of the sweet potatoes here. I personally love the sweet potato/chili combination: it’s a riff on my favorite vegan chili recipe (black beans and sweet potato), and the sweetness of the potatoes stands up really nicely to the savoriness and spice of the chili itself.

Amy's is dedicated to producing high-quality vegetarian, vegan, and frozen packaged foods, from chili and soups to tofu scrambles and wraps, and more. See all their products here.

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The Food52 Vegan Cookbook is here! With this book from Gena Hamshaw, anyone can learn how to eat more plants (and along the way, how to cook with and love cashew cheese, tofu, and nutritional yeast).

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Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.