This vegan dish of chickpeas à la King is cozy, comforting, and quite nostalgic for anyone who’s a fan of the traditional chicken recipe! It’s super quick and easy to make, and you can serve it over rice, toast, or whatever you like.
I ate quite a few Stouffer’s frozen dinners growing up, and I loved them.
I loved them specifically because they presented me with the classic, all-American comfort food dishes that my mom and grandmother didn’t tend to cook at home.
My mom’s family is Greek, so I was raised on the flavors of oregano, dill, garlic, tomato, and lemon. Lots and lots of lemon.
My Yaya’s table offered up traditional Greek fare: broiled keftedes, fragrant sheet pans of patates lemonates, tsoureki and kourabiedes at the holidays, and my personal favorite: slow cooked fasolakia, with its flavorful sauce of tomatoes and olive oil.
In spite of this, the women who raised me loved American comfort food. In fact, my mom’s two culinary specialties were meatloaf and tuna noodle casserole. Her favorites to purchase and heat up in the oven were chicken pot pie and crab cakes. Her grilled cheese was legendary.
My Yaya would choose Haagen-Daaz vanilla ice cream over baklava nine times out of ten. And she had two clear favorite Stouffer dinners, which became my two favorites as well: Turkey Tetrazzini and Chicken à la King.
How I loved those dishes, with their creamy textures and cozy, starchy accompaniments: mashed potatoes or rice. There’s a photo of me as a four-year-old, digging into a plastic tray of Turkey Tetrazzini with a fork and a gleeful expression on my face.
I’m still working on a vegan Tetrazzini of my own. But I think I’ve finally figured out an à la King recipe that fits my present-day life. It’s vegan, of course. And I chose my all-time favorite bean, chickpeas, as the protein.
What is chicken à la King?
Chicken à la King is a creamy dish of diced chicken, red or pimiento peppers, and mushrooms. It can be seasoned with sherry, though my version doesn’t include it, and I didn’t miss it.
Chicken à la King is typically served over cooked rice, toast, noodles, or a biscuit.
According to Wikipedia, there are a few apocryphal stories about the origins of this dish. One is that it was created at Delmonico’s restaurant in the 1880s. Another version claims that it originated at the same time, but across the pond, at Claridge’s Hotel in London.
There’s another tale linking the dish’s origins to a hotel in Brighton Beach, and yet another suggesting that it was created by a hotel cook (William “Bill” King) at the Bellevue in Philadelphia.
No matter the case, mentions of the dish appeared in the New York Times as early as 1893, and recipes for it were published in 1900 and 1905.
I was introduced to Chicken à la King via TV dinner. I thought it was tasty and comforting, but I became vegan before I had enough cooking know-how to try making it myself.
These chickpeas à la King are my first attempt at creating the dish at home. I was so happy with how easy they were to prepare. I love the versatility of the recipe, the fact that it can be served with/on top a few different starches.
Best of all, chickpeas à la king are as tasty, simple, and comforting as I remember.
Chickpeas for chicken
Clearly, the main departure I made in my à la King recipe was to use chickpeas in place of the traditional chicken.
Chickpeas are a go-to plant-protein for me. I love their creamy, satisfying texture, their plump, round shape, and the fact that they are super versatile.
I scramble chickpeas, blend them into hummus, simmer or puree them in soup, fold them into pasta, add them to grain salads, use them as the base of vegan meatloaf, and turn them into burgers. I’m constantly thinking of new, creative ways to use this nutritious legume in recipes.
The trick for chickpeas à la King was to season the beans in such a way that they’d stand in ably for chicken. That’s where Orrington Farm’s vegan chicken flavored base came in.
This broth base has become a VIP ingredient in my pantry.
As the name implies, this powder can be added to hot water in order to create a chicken-flavored broth that’s completely vegan. I now use it to season soy curls, make pots of soup, add umami and salty flavor to casseroles, and more.
Do you run out of cartons of store-bought vegetable and chicken broth all the time? Me too.
That’s why I love the chicken flavored base, along with Orrington Farm’s vegetable base, ham flavored base, and beef flavored base. Whether I’ve grocery shopped recently or not, I can always have a hot cup or two of broth ready to cook with at a moment’s notice.
The broth base jar contains enough powder to make a whole 28 cups of vegan chicken-style broth. It’s so convenient to have on hand.
And, if you don’t need to create broth, you can use the powder as a seasoning instead. I’ve added it to skillet meals, rice dishes, and stuffed peppers, among other dishes, for extra flavor.
A few other features of this versatile product: the broth base is gluten-free and made in small batches. For those who avoid MSG, it’s seasoned with sea salt instead. And it’s farmed in the US, in St. Louis, Missouri.
How to make vegan chickpeas à la King
In addition to being hearty, filling, and versatile, the chickpeas à la King are very easy to prepare!
You’ll start by sautéing onion, pepper, mushrooms, and garlic in vegan butter (or oil) for 8-10 minutes, or long enough for the mushrooms to release their juices and become tender.
Next, you’ll add some non-dairy milk and water to the skillet with the vegetables. This liquid will become the chickpeas’ creamy sauce.
In a small bowl, you’ll whisk together the Orrington Farms broth base, some additional water, flour, and nutritional yeast. This savory mixture is a slurry: a starchy liquid, usually made with flour or cornstarch, that goes on to thicken a dish.
You’ll add the slurry to the vegetables and simmer until their sauce is creamy. Then, you’ll fold in your cooked chickpeas.
From here, the only remaining steps are to warm the chickpeas through, taste them, and adjust your seasonings.
With that, chickpeas à la king are ready to eat.
When it comes to serving, you’ve got options! I like to pile the chickpeas over cooked rice or toast. But they’re also great over pasta or noodles, cooked quinoa, mashed potatoes, or biscuits.
Instead of serving the chickpeas à la king over a starch, you could choose to serve them over steamed or sautéed leafy greens or zucchini noodles instead.
Do I need to cook my chickpeas from scratch?
In a word, no. It’s my personal preference to use canned beans in my cooking 95% of the time.
I think it’s cool if you prefer to soak beans and scratch cook, but a pantry full of canned beans makes quick meals with plant-protein an easy reality.
Whether you cook from scratch or use canned beans, you’ll need 3 cups of cooked chickpeas for the recipe. That’s about two cans.
Chickpeas à la King ingredients
With simplicity and ease in mind, I kept the ingredients of the chickpeas à la King pretty simple.
You’ll need vegetables: onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. There’s plenty of opportunity to vary the vegetables in this dish if you like. I want to try it with green peas. It would also be nice with green beans, chopped zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower florets, or diced carrot.
For seasoning, the Orrington Farms broth base packs a punch. I keep the seasonings simple otherwise: salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast for additional savoriness.
You can add herbs or spices that you love to the recipe. Parsley, tarragon, and paprika could all be good additions.
The creamy sauce in this recipe depends on flour for thickening and non-dairy milk. I used unsweetened, plain soy milk. However, you can use another plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk of choice, including oat milk, cashew milk, or almond milk.
I don’t recommend rice milk, as its texture is too thin for the recipe. I’d personally opt against coconut milk because it tends to make things taste coconutty, which isn’t the goal here. However, a lot of folks love cooking with coconut milk, and its creaminess certainly suits the recipe. If that’s your preference, then go for it.
Finally, I like to use vegan butter to sauté the vegetables at the start of preparing the chickpeas à la king. This is a comfort food recipe, and I think that the buttery flavor is authentic. However, both olive and avocado oil are a fine replacement if you prefer them.
Meal prep & storage
Once cooked, the chickpeas à la king will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
The recipe is a good meal prep option because you can enjoy it through the week in a few different ways. Try varying the grain, starch, or vegetables that you serve it with.
You could even get creative and add the chickpeas to tofu scramble or add them to your favorite vegan lunch bowl.
Can I freeze chickpeas à la king?
Most definitely. The chickpeas à la king can be frozen for up to six weeks. Thaw overnight in the fridge and enjoy them when you’re ready.
More classic comfort food fare
If this recipe speaks to you, then you may share my love of cozy, comfort food classics.
Here are a few others that I love to make.
It’s such a joy to savor vegan versions of these nostalgic favorites!
Yields: 6 servings
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter (substitute olive or avocado oil)
- 1 small white or yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 8 ounces sliced button or baby bella mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/4 cups unsweetened, plain soy, oat, cashew, or almond milk
- 1 cup water (divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour (35 g)
- 4 teaspoons Orrington Farms Vegan Chicken Flavored Base
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas (480g, or 2 15-ounce/425g cans, drained and rinsed)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cooked rice, pasta, toast, or vegan biscuits, for serving
- Chopped green onion tops, chives, or fresh parsley leaves, for serving
Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, or until the mushrooms have released their juices and are completely tender and reduced in size.
Turn the heat to medium high. Add the non-dairy milk and 3/4 cup water to the skillet and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup water, flour, chicken flavored base, and nutritional yeast until you have a smooth slurry. Add this mixture to the simmering vegetables and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low and continue to simmer until the sauce has thickened considerably, 2-3 minutes. Add the chickpeas to the skillet and warm through, about 2 more minutes.
Taste and add salt and freshly ground black pepper as desired. Serve the warm chickpeas and vegetables over cooked brown rice, pasta, toast, or vegan biscuits. Top with chopped green onion tops, chives, or parsley, if desired. Enjoy.
Another nice feature of the chickpeas à la king recipe? Like all comfort food, it’s especially nice when it’s cold out. But it’s not really a seasonal dish. I’ve been enjoying it so much as the weather warms up. And of course there’s lots of possibility to add in seasonal flourishes with the vegetables and herbs that you choose.
I hope that this recipe will come in handy on some evening when you need to quickly whip up a nutritious, filling vegan supper. And I hope you’ll explore the Orrington Farms vegan broth bases. They make meals like this all the easier and more convenient.
This post is sponsored by Orrington Farms. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!