The point in history when Meatless Mondays got a whole lot better....
I started to eat a plant-based diet in 1989. Things were a lot different in the health food industry back then. Oh, and I really did not like vegetables at that point. Really at all. I didn't like any vegetables. Unless you count corn and that isn't really a vegetable. So finding an especially delicious vegan meal when dining out was rare. Stumbling across a restaurant that specializes in creating tasty plant-based dishes was nearly impossible.
Nearly 30 years later, the market has changed. Creating a delicious plant-based meal is a challenge that most gifted chefs are willing to take. Many cities now even have their own local favorites. While on a cross-country speaking tour educating about healthy living last summer, I got the excuse to check out many local favorites...
There is Detroit Vegan Soul, obviously in Detroit. The catfish tofu is ridiculously good. Asheville has The Laughing Seed, where the downtown setting is as good as the food. The Gumbo Shop in New Orleans has a crazy good gumbo, but it wasn't on the menu so I had to ask for it. Then, Phoenix has 24 Carrots and their creative combinations.
And Dallas, well, Dallas has Spiral Diner. In true Texan-style, they make some amazing comfort food. Only their comfort food is vegan.
Spiral Diner in the Dallas area is one of those places that can make the most carnivorous of people open to including more plants in their diet. When I tried their vegan nachos last summer (pictured to the right), my first thought was "yup, I am going to have to figure out how to make these."
Bringing the Future Doctors of America students from Jefferson Middle School into the kitchen for class this week was just the excuse to perfect my own vegan nachos recipe. Vegan Richa and the Minimalist Baker provided some inspiration in pulling all of these pieces together. By the way, this recipe is free of gluten, dairy, eggs, and nuts.
There are a few steps to making this dish, but most everything other than the nacho "cheese" can be make up ahead of time. Or, they are easy assignments to give to helpers in the kitchen.
Despite the steps, this meal is easy to prepare. It was one of the 3 meals the Future Doctors of America prepared and ate in less than an hour. It is worth all the effort to hear so many say, "Wow, these are actually really good." Especially knowing how many healthy veggies and other foods were included along the way.
The Best Vegan Nachos
Prep time: 40 minutes
2c cooked quinoa
1T nutritional yeast
2t chili powder
1/2t garlic powder
1T olive oil
Seasoned Black Beans
1t vegan butter
2t chopped garlic
1c coarsely chopped mushrooms
1c coarsely chopped carrots
1c coarsely chopped broccoli
1c coarsely chopped zucchini
2c mixed "Power" greens (chard, kale, spinach, etc.)
1 1/2c non-dairy milk
2T garbanzo flour
1T tapioca flour
1/2t mustard seed powder
1/2t garlic powder
1/4t onion powder
1/4t chili powder
1/2t smoked paprika
1/4t ground cumin
1/2t ground turmeric
2 1/2T nutritional yeast
2 1/2t lemon juice
Chips & other optional toppings:
1 bag of organic corn chips
Fresh avocado or guacamole
Vegan sour cream (store-bought, or homemade)
Salsa or pico
1.) Preheat oven to 400F.
2.) Prepare Quinoa "Meat:
Add all ingredients for the Quinoa "Meat" together in a large mixing bowl. Toss to mix well.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the quinoa over the parchment paper in a thin layer.
Back for 10-15 minutes. Stir well and bake another 10-15 minutes, or until desired crunchiness.
(Can be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.)
3.) Prepare the Seasoned Black Bean:
Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan. Add garlic and lightly brown. Reduce heat to low.
Add beans, salsa, cumin, chili powder, and salt. Stir well. Cover and cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes.
Lightly mash some beans. Cover and cook another 5 minutes.
4.) Prepare Mixed Veggies:
Heat butter over medium heat. Add chopped mushrooms. Coat well with melted butter. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add coarsely chopped carrots. Stir well. Cover and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Add coarsely chopped broccoli and zucchini. Stir well. Cover and cook another 2-3 minutes.
Add greens. Stir well. Cover and turn off heat. Allow to sit on warm burner for 5 minutes before serving.
5.) Prepare Nacho "Cheese":
Add all ingredients for Nacho "Cheese" in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
Pour liquid into a small sauce pan and heat over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened. Stir frequently, scraping the sides of the pan.
Serve warm and immediately for best taste.
4.) Layer the nachos! Start with a thin layer of chips. Then, add some "cheese", quinoa "meat", seasoned black beans, mixed veggies, and your favorite other toppings.
5.) Best enjoyed immediately, but it is still pretty tasty as left-overs. Hope you and your family enjoy this heart-healthy twist on some classic comfort food!
This recipe was created as a part of the Jefferson Middle School, Spring 2017 class.
The students at JMS were a part of the pilot program thru funding from:
Additional support provided by: