Hello, winter. May I have some fat with my plants, please?
When up against the elements (and animal fats of various sorts are off the table), I turn to plant-based recipes affectionately called “filling and unrestrained.” A green salad or smoothie rarely passes between my lips in the winter months. Instead, I slather Earth Balance on cinnamon toast with abandon, toss saucy noodle bowls for lunch, and top potatoes and rice with veggies via herby homemade pestos.
And I make tacos.
Feel free to “further” modify the following taco recipes to your heart’s content. Add guacamole, cashew cream, non-dairy cheese … and Netflix, or good friends, and whatever else brings you comfort.
Crowd-Pleasing Veggie Chili;
a.k.a. Taco Filling #1
by Angela Liddon; taken from The Oh She Glows Cookbook (p. 149), and slightly modified
For the Spice Blend:
1 tablespoon (15 mL) chili powder
1½ teaspoons (7 mL) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (5 mL) smoked sweet paprika, or ½ teaspoon (2 mL) regular paprika
¼ teaspoon (1 mL) cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
1¼ teaspoons (6 mL) fine-grain sea salt
¼ teaspoon (1 mL) ground coriander (optional)
For the Taco Filling:
1½ teaspoons (7 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded, if desired, and diced
fine-grain sea alt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh or frozen corn
1 (14-ounce/396-g) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce or tomato puree
2 to 3 cups (500 to 750 mL) chopped kale leaves or baby spinach
1 (15-ounce/425-g) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups (750 mL) cooked wild rice blend or brown rice
Make the Spice Blend:
In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt, and coriander (if using). Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Then, in a large wok or sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and jalapeño and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes, until softened. Season with salt and black pepper.
Stir in the Spice Blend, corn, diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, kale, beans, and rice. Sauté for a few minutes and season with more salt and black pepper, if desired.
Spoon taco filling into corn tortilla shells and top with your favourite non-dairy cheese. These days I’ve been using Daiya, and Okanagan Soya Co.
Bake until the cheese melts and serve immediately, topped with fresh tomato salsa and cashew cream (recipes below), and sliced avocado or guacamole.
Taco Filling #2
2 cups roughly chopped zucchini
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeds and stem discarded, minced
pinch ground cumin
pinch of ground oregano
2 small to medium tomatoes, chopped
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the zucchini, onions, garlic, green chiles, and jalapeño to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and cumin. Stir to coat the vegetables with the oil in the pan. Spread the veggies out in the pan and then stir only occasionally, until they are all lightly browned. Stir in the the chopped tomatoes and oregano, and lower the heat to low. Let gently cook for several minutes.
Spoon taco filling into corn tortilla shells and top with your favourite non-dairy cheese.
Bake at 375°F until the cheese melts and serve immediately, topped with fresh tomato salsa and cashew cream (recipes below), and sliced avocado or guacamole.
Fresh Tomato Salsa
2-3 medium-sized fresh tomatoes (1 to 1½ lbs), stems removed, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño chile pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
1 serano chile pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
Juice of one lime
2 cups chopped cilantro (I like lots of cilantro but adjust to your own taste)
salt and pepper to taste
Chop the tomatoes, and prepare the chile peppers.
Be very careful handling the hot peppers. Try to avoid touching them if you can. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for heat.
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
Let sit for an hour for the flavours to combine. Makes 3-4 cups.
Cashew Sour Cream
by Angela Liddon; taken from The Oh She Glows Cookbook (p. 281)
1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews, soaked overnight
2 teaspoons (10 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5 mL) apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, or to taste
In a bowl, combine 1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews and enough water to cover them and soak for 8 hours or overnight (for a quick-soak method, put the cashews in a bowl, pour boiling water over them until the cashews are covered , and soak for 2 hours).
Drain and rinse the cashews and transfer them to a blender with 1/2 – 1 cup (125 to 250 mL) water. Less water will give you a thicker sauce.
Blend on high speed with the lemon juice, cider vinegar, and salt until the cream is smooth.