One of my favorite workday lunches (and quick weeknight dinners) is a baked potato smothered in baked beans, chili, or broccoli and a cheezy sauce. Keeping a few baked potatoes ready in the fridge or freezer is a great form of insurance against going lunch-less or having to go out and grab something. Cover that tater with last night’s chili or that can of baked beans you stashed in the pantry, and you’re good to go with a filling, hearty meal.
Last time I had a baked potato, I enjoyed it with Trader Joe’s veggie chili. As I ate, I began to wonder why potatoes and chili don’t meet more often. The flavor combination is perfect! I started picturing a dish that would take advantage of the flavors of chili but rely on potatoes for bulk. This casserole is the result, with layers of thinly sliced potatoes doused in a spicy tomato-based sauce. Adding black beans and tofu “chorizo” increases the protein content and gives lots of texture to a saucy dish. Cooking the potatoes right in the spicy sauce really infuses them with the spicy flavors, but it also adds substantial baking time. If you’re in a rush, feel free to boil or steam the sliced potatoes ahead of time and then bake the assembled casserole for 15-20 minutes.
I opted for a smoky, back-burner type spiciness, but if you love big, bold spices, go wild with adding more chili powder or red pepper flakes! The sauce is customizable to your tastes.
Spicy Potato Casserole with Tofu “Chorizo”
For the Tofu Chorizo
- One block (14 oz) extra-firm tofu, pressed
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Cholula (or your favorite hot sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon achiote powder or chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- A few dashes liquid smoke
- A dash cinnamon
For the Casserole
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or canola oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion (about 7 oz), diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1 28-oz can tomato puree
- 1 15-oz can black beans
First, prepare the tofu chorizo. In a container with a watertight lid, mix together all chorizo ingredients (except the tofu) and whisk to combine. Using your hands, crumble the tofu into the spice mixture. The tofu crumbles should be small but not fine; it’s okay if they’re not uniform. Put the lid on the container and shake until all the tofu is coated with the mixture. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium. Add the diced onions and cook for about 4 minutes, then add the minced garlic and the tofu chorizo. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are translucent, stirring periodically. While this mixture is cooking, prepare the potatoes. Leave the skins on and slice them lengthwise into about 1/4″ slices. It’s okay if some of them are larger. Once you’ve prepared the potatoes, set them aside.
By now, the onions, garlic, and tofu should be cooked. Turn the heat down to low and add two cups of the tomato puree and all the black beans. Stir to combine and let sit for a minute while you prepare a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Spray or lightly brush the dish with a little oil, then pour the remaining plain tomato puree into the dish so it covers the bottom.
Taste the chorizo-tomato mixture and add additional seasonings to taste (chili powder, salt, etc.). Turn the stove off.
Place roughly 1/3 of the sliced potatoes into the prepared baking dish, right on top of the tomato puree. Create a single layer; it’s okay if there are some open spaces, but don’t overlap the potatoes. Using a ladle, spoon 1/3 of the chorizo-tomato mixture over the potatoes and spread to cover them. Repeat with another 1/3 potatoes and 1/3 chorizo-tomato mixture two more times, until everything is used.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for an hour. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. If you’re feeling fancy, top with your favorite vegan cheese shreds or cheezy sauce and broil the dish for another 3-5 minutes.
(A note about the tofu chorizo: I based the spice blend on Vegicano‘s Lentil Chorizo. That chorizo de lenteja is out-of-this world delicious! I highly recommend making it and serving it with corn tortillas, pico de gallo, guac, and a simple cabbage slaw. HEAVEN.)