Tacos, Vegan Style
Ah, Veganuary, what delights you deliver! A plant-based Camembert, more products than you can shake a stick at in M&S, and vegan KFC. Ooh and the no-fish and chips at Wagamama! Plant based cooking is so innovative these days and it’s contagious. It has without doubt made me a more adventurous cook.
Occasionally, if I get time, I will spend an afternoon in the kitchen with 6Music, and really go to town. Generally these cooking bouts have an international flavour and Mexico is a favourite. So, to mark Veganuary, I thought I’d give you not just one but 5 recipes, to put together great plant-based tacos with tons of flavour and colour.
For the tacos, you can use the shells or the soft version. I prefer the latter, Alex, the former. I find the shells a nuisance to work with, he likes the crunch. I will leave that to you to work out. You can serve with spicy rice, re-fried beans, roasted vegetables, guacamole…. The options are endless. Or just make a load of tacos….
You can do this the hard way or take my cheat. Either way the spice mix is the same:
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
1 – 2 tsps chili powder
1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
1 – 2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp allspice
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp tomato paste / puree
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt & Pepper to taste
Whisk all the ingredients together in a jug.
The easy way is to cheat and use Beyond Meat burgers. I know fake meats trigger a lot of people, and I wouldn’t advocate them everyday, but as a treat every now and then, why not? They are high salt and sat fat (coconut oil) but much better nutritionally than an actual meat burger. If you’re going to go with this option, break up 4 patties to feed about 6 (depending on the appetite of your diners!). Then fry an onion until soft, add the Beyond Meat and spice mix and cook until the meat is golden brown and any liquid has evaporated.
The more difficult way is to create your own meat. The version I prefer is this:
450g extra firm tofu
Pre heat your oven to 180c. In a food processor pulse the walnuts to a crumb (be really careful not to go too far and get a paste). Mash the tofu with a fork (I always press my tofu before I use it to get rid of excess water – it’s not necessary, but it gives a drier meat). Mix the walnut crumb, mashed tofu and spice mix together, making sure everything is well covered. Then spread out evenly over a parchment lined baking tray. Bake for 35 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then.
So now you have your meat and shells. What else?
If you’re a Wahaca fan, you’ll know that no taco is complete without these pink beauties. You will need:
A clean jar
1 red onion
Traditional or Apple Cider Vinegar
A generous pinch of salt.
Peel and finely slice the onion and place in the jar. Cover with the vinegar & add the salt. Stir, cover and allow to sit for at least an hour. They will keep for about 3 weeks in a fridge.
Vegan Queso (Cheese)
Courtesy of Plant Based Magazine
A creamy cheese sauce to pour over the meat.
140g raw cashew nuts
180ml hot water
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 clove of garlic (peeled)
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp hot sauce of your choosing
Salt to taste
Very simply, blend everything until you get a smooth, creamy dip. Add more hot water (a bit at a time) if necessary.
Kiwi Fruit Salsa
Courtesy of Jamie Oliver
2 ripe kiwi fruits
1 fresh jalapeno or green chili
4 spring onions
Tabasco sauce (chipotle if possible)
Half a bunch of coriander
Peel the Kiwi fruit and cut in half. Heat a dry pan then lightly scald the kiwis with the de-seeded and chopped chili, and the green parts of the spring onions (the white parts can be chopped and used as below). Then place in a blender with the juice of the lime, coriander and as much Tabasco as you can stomach. Blitz until smooth and then season.
Compose your slaw from whatever you have to hand – cabbage works well, as does radishes, carrots, peppers, baby gem lettuce. The spring onion left over from the salsa can be used too.
Make your dressing with a few spoonfuls of vegan mayo, mixed with about 2 tsp of chipotle sauce (or any hot sauce you like), some lime juice, fresh coriander (chopped) and salt & pepper.
Mix it all together.
Now you are ready to enjoy your taco feast. Build them however you like, and sprinkle with the queso, salsa and pickled onions. Pickled jalapenos, charred sweetcorn nuggets and vegan grated cheese go well too.
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