Chili Mac

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

Looking for a simple comfort food? We’ve got the meal for you! Smokey marina sauce combines with toasted tempeh and noodles to provide the experience of chili mac or hamburger helper. (Alex: Although it would likely serve four people just fine, I could eat the whole thing myself.)

We love the effect the liquid smoke and paprika has on the marinara sauce. It gives it an incredible barbecue flavor that transforms the whole aspect of the dish! And, of course, we also love to nutritional yeast. Two tablespoons is good, but nobody will notice if the lid falls off the container and the whole thing dumps out in there…


  • 8oz whole-wheat rotini (or pasta of choice)
  • One 8oz block tempeh
  • Two medium carrots, cut into rounds
  • One head broccoli
  • 1 cup chopped cauliflower
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • A frozen bag of chopped italian vegetables can substitute the last three lines
  • 1 red pepper (or half a red and green)
  • 4 large white mushrooms (or 6 medium)
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (we used hickory)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Marinara Sauce
  • 2 tbsp nutrition yeast—or as much as you like!


  1. Prepare the ingredients for the Marinara Sauce in the food processor, and proceed with that recipe until the sauce is on the stove at a low simmer.
  2. Put a pot of water on the stove at high heat for the pasta.
  3. Begin preparing the vegetables. We start with onions and mushrooms, putting those on the stove at high heat, and then progressively cut and add the broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and zucchini. Make sure to add water or broth regularly so vegetables don’t stick too much.
  4. Pulverize the tempeh. You can use a food processor, but we generally just use a knife. Cut it into narrow slices length-wise and width-wise, and then mince it as one would garlic.
  5. Place the tempeh evenly over a sheet of tinfoil or a pan you don’t mind broiling! Broil on low, making sure to position the tempeh so the heat reaches it as evenly as possible. This takes only a few minutes, so keep a close eye on it and don’t let it burn! The tempeh is done with it’s crispy. (In a pinch, we’ve used parchment paper, which will definitely smoke a little. The tempeh cooks so quickly it won’t quite light on fire! Unless you forget. Then it will all be on fire.)
  6. Put the chili powder, liquid smoke, and paprika into the marina sauce, stir, and let it continue to simmer on low.
  7. Add the pasta to the now boiling water. Spend the next several minutes anxiously monitoring all the food, adding water and broth to the vegetables as necessary and mixing regularly and watching the tempeh.
  8. As they complete, mix in the tempeh, the smokey marina sauce, and the drained pasta.
  9. The meal is done. Add salt and pepper to taste, if so inclined. Don’t forget to top with a healthy dose of nutritional yeast!

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