Last weekend Matt and I were killing time in a Chili’s restaurant at O’Hare Airport. Scanning their menu, the Southwestern Egg Rolls looked like a pretty healthy option to snack on: filled with spinach, black beans and corn. (See picture at right.) They were delicious! It’s kind of funny because we skipped the ranch dip that came with them, thinking we were being “extra healthy”, and when I got home and looked up the recipe I found out their egg rolls contained chicken and cheese and they were deep-fat fried. (Our fault for not asking.) I decided to try and come up with a vegan, baked version to take to an upcoming party where I knew most of the guests would be vegan. After my first attempt, I found out that they should be eaten hot, right out of the oven. Since the appetizer would be sitting on a table for hours at an outdoor fall-festival party, I realized this wouldn’t be a good choice to bring.

But now I had a bucketful of bean/corn/spinach filling with no home. I tried to wrap the ingredients in a tortilla and slice it into pinwheels instead. The problem I ran into was that the filling was  too loose- the beans and corn kept falling out of the pinwheel. I needed something to bind the ingredients together. I got a second can of black beans, mashed them and added some Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. Threw everything together and voila! They held together. I used regular flour tortillas, but next time I’ll try some of the more colorful ones like spinach and sun-dried tomato.

Southwestern Pinwheels

Course: Appetizer


  • 2 cups frozen corn thawed
  • 2 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 10-0z package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 10-oz can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis, drained
  • 6 green onions chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 oz Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese about half an 8-oz carton
  • 4 large 10-inch flour tortillas, any variety
  • Salsa or guacamole on the side


  • In a large bowl, combine one can black beans, corn, spinach, Rotel tomatoes, green onions, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper.In a large skillet, sauté the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the second can of black beans and mash with the back of a fork. Add the Tofutti and stir until melted into beans. Should be a thick paste. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well combined. Let cool.
  • Lay one tortilla flat and spread the ingredients evenly across it to within a half an inch of the border. Roll up and place seam-side down on a plate. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours.Before you’re ready to serve, gently slice the tortillas into pieces about 3/4 inch wide. (I say gently because if you apply too much pressure, they will end up looking like some of mine- more like bulldozer tracks and less like pinwheels.)
  • Serve with salsa or guacamole.