We all know that chilli and rice go well together - but have you ever tried chilli with pasta?! This vegetarian chilli mac combines two of my favourite dinners to create something that's way more than the sum of its parts:
It's packed with vegetables, beans, and of course, plenty of gooey cheesy pasta!
If that hasn't already convinced you to try this recipe, perhaps this will: This vegetarian chilli mac be made in just one pot! If there's one thing that can make a tasty meal even more irresistible, it's knowing that you'll only have one pan to wash afterwards!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It. Is. Delicious!
- It's the perfect one pot dinner - so there's minimal faff, and minimal washing up!
- You can adjust the spices and vegetables to your own preferences - you can use it as a bit of a fridge clearer.
- This chilli mac is irresistible comfort food, but it's still full of vegetables and protein-rich beans - the best of both worlds.
- It's hearty enough to serve on its own, but just like all the best Tex-Mex meals, it can also be dressed up with your favourite toppings, like avocado, sour cream or tortilla chips!
Here's what you'll need to make this recipe. You'll also need some kitchen staples, like oil, salt and black pepper.
A few ingredient notes:
- pasta - I used fusilli, but any similar shape will work, e.g. penne or spirali.
- onions - I actually used frozen diced onions, but fresh onion would be great too!
- bell pepper - I used a few mini ones, because that's what I had on hand. One large pepper would also be great - red, yellow or orange would be the tastiest.
- kidney beans - black beans would be great too.
- spices - smoked paprika, ground cumin, and mild chilli powder. Use more chilli if you like it spicy!
- passata - this is a tomato sauce that is literally just made from sieved tomatoes. If you can't find passata, any other similar tomato sauce will be fine.
- grated cheese - I used the pre-grated stuff, but cheese grated from a block would be even better.
See the printable recipe card below for detailed ingredient quantities.
👌 Top tip
I love using frozen vegetables in this kind of meal. Frozen peppers, frozen onions and frozen mushrooms would all work well! They're just as nutrient-rich as the fresh versions, but there's no peeling or chopping involved, and frozen vegetables help to reduce food waste too!
🔄 Ingredient Swaps
Here are a few ways you could adapt this recipe:
- Swap the vegetables for whatever you already have in the fridge. Sweetcorn, courgette (zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), tomatoes, etc. would all work well.
- You could try using wholegrain pasta if you prefer. It usually takes a few more minutes to cook than white pasta, so may also need an extra splash of water.
- If you like things really spicy, swap the cheddar cheese for your favourite kind of spicy cheese - or, use something like mozzarella if you want your chilli mac to be mild and gooey.
- Mix through a dollop of cream cheese just before serving to make an extra creamy chilli mac.
- Black beans would work really well instead of kidney beans, if you prefer.
Here's how to make this recipe - see below for the printable recipe with detailed ingredients and instructions.
Step 1: Start by cooking off the onions, peppers and mushrooms for a few minutes, until they're beginning to soften.
Step 2: Add the spices and kidney beans. The spices will begin to create the rich, spicy sauce as they coat the vegetables.
👌 Top tip
If you find canned beans are sometimes a bit sludgy and get stuck to the inside of the tin, try giving the can a good shake before you open it. This will dislodge any beans that are stuck, and makes them much easier to tip out!
Step 3: Add the uncooked pasta and the passata. Bring to a simmer.
Step 4: When the pasta is cooked, stir through some of the cheese to make the whole dish nice and creamy. Melt the remaining cheese on top.
Step 5: Serve with your choice of toppings or side dishes. I chose fresh parsley and sliced avocado.
🌶 Chilli Mac FAQs
I served my chilli mac with some sliced avocado, which worked beautifully - the creaminess cut through the rich, spicy sauce perfectly. Some garlic bread would also be amazing, to dip in the enchilada sauce!
This meal is great for batch cooking, as it can easily be prepared in advance. If you know you're going to be reheating your chilli mac, make sure you don't overcook it the first time round, or the pasta might become mushy.
It's best reheated in the microwave, to help keep it moist. You can also reheat in a pan on the stovetop, but you may need to add a splash more water to stop it from drying out.
📖 Printable Recipe
One Pot Vegetarian Chilli Mac
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- 1 Tablespoon oil
- 75 g frozen diced onions (~ ¾ cup, or 1 regular onion)
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 4 medium mushrooms, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon mild chilli powder (adjust to taste)
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 400 g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed (240g, or ~ 1 ¼ cups, when drained)
- 500 ml (~ 2 cups) passata or tomato sauce
- 250 ml (~ 1 cup) water
- 200 g (~ 7 oz) uncooked pasta (I used fusilli)
- 100 g (~ 1 cup) grated cheddar cheese
- To serve, your choice of toppings (optional): sliced avocado, fresh coriander (cilantro) or parsley, sliced spring onions, sour cream, etc.
- Heat a splash of oil in a pan (I used a large, deep frying pan), and add the onions, peppers and mushrooms. Cook for a few minutes over a medium heat, until slightly softened.
- Add the garlic, spices, and plenty of salt and pepper, along with the kidney beans. Cook for a couple more minutes. The spices should become fragrant, and begin to coat the vegetables in a rich sauce.
- Add the passata, water, and uncooked pasta. Mix well to combine, and bring to a simmer. Stirring regularly, allow the dish to cook for around 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked al dente. I covered my pan in between stirs to prevent the sauce from spitting. You can add an extra splash of water to help cook the pasta, if needed.
- When the pasta is cooked, stir through half of the grated cheese to make the mixture slightly creamy. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, cover with a lid, and leave it to melt for a couple of minutes.
- Serve topped with your choice of toppings - I used fresh parsley and sliced avocado.
Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on your exact ingredients. Please calculate your own nutritional values if you require accuracy for health reasons.