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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nachos with Cashew "Cheese" Sauce + Delicious Tempeh Crumbles (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Before you freak out, do not let the long ingredient list keep you from making these nachos! Let me assure you that it really is quite easy to put together and most importantly, they are so, so, so, soooooo perfect. So finger-lickin' good you won't want to come down from the high! Every time I share these nachos with someone else, I get loads of oooh's & ahhh's. Yep, it's a crowd pleaser. You will fool any non-vegan.

Top: cashew "cheese" sauce. Bottom: tempeh
Cashew "cheese" is simply the most genius invention. Vegans are really navigating quite well around the mostly non-vegan society we live in. We give up cheese, yes, sadly because it tastes so darn good, only to find out there are equally delicious alternatives out there liiiike cashew "cheese"! As long as you have a high-powered blender, it's a cake walk to make. You will be so shocked to see how similar it is to the real thing... creamy, "cheesy" and perfectly spiced. You will never go back! The tempeh is also stellar. If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a fermented soy product and is packed with protein (approx. 21g per serving). It is new for me but I am loving experimenting with it. It is so versatile, you can even make tempeh "bacon" *gasp* *runs to put that on my to-make list*. :-D

I also wanted to mention the corn factor. Personally, my digestive system does not process corn well and I know others have issues with this, too. If you want to use corn chips, I highly recommend you use organic corn chips with the Non-GMO Project Verified label because 88% of corn grown in the United States is genetically modified and we don't want to put altered substances into our bodies without knowing what the long-term effects are. 

For a corn chip alternative, I have just the solution for you: turn Food for Life gluten-free brown rice tortillas into chips! One day, I was out of chips and had this crazy idea to cut the tortillas into triangles and bake them in the oven. It worked! They make delicious chips. So, if you would like to use that healthier option, here's how you do it: pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place the desired amount of tortillas on your cutting board and cut into triangles or rectangles. Place them on a baking sheet or two and bake for 8-10 minutes, until hard and lightly browned. 2-3 tortillas would probably do just fine for this recipe. Watch them closely in the oven.

Secret: The plant-based life is more fun & more delicious (& obviously tons more nutritious). You get to be more creative in the kitchen for one, but more importantly, you'll feel lighter, more energized & beyond satisfied all without depleting your health. The government & big food corporations would rather you not know how wonderful a plant-based diet is because that would run them out of business. The truth is, consumers dictate the market. If we demand it, businesses must rise to meet that demand. Demand organic, plant-based & cruelty-free foods & products!

Nachos with Cashew "Cheese" Sauce & Tempeh Crumbles
YIELD: 2-4 servings

For the nacho "cheese" sauce:

• 1 cup raw & unsalted cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours or overnight then drained
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 2 tsp arrowroot starch
• 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
• 2 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp fine sea salt
• 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (start with a small amount then work your way up to your desired spice level)
• 1/8 tsp turmeric
• 1 Tbs unrefined coconut oil
• 1 small yellow onion, chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 1/2 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the tempeh:
• 1/2 (8 oz.) package Lightlife original organic tempeh
• 1 1/2 tsp reduced sodium tamari
• 1/4 tsp cumin
• 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Other ingredients:
• 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
• Organic corn chips or Food for Life brown rice tortillas
• Red onion, finely chopped
• Cilantro, finely chopped
• Green olives, sliced
• Jalapeño pepper, deseeded (if desired) and sliced
Guacamole, to top
• Salsa, to top

*Feel free to add what ever toppings you're feelin' at the moment! 

For the nacho "cheese" sauce:

1. Heat the coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add in the onion, red bell pepper and garlic and sauté for 7-10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent, being careful not to burn the garlic. Lower the heat and cook longer if necessary.
2. In the meantime, using a high-speed blender (like a Vitamix or BlendTec), blend the cashews, vegetable broth, arrowroot starch, nutritional yeast, cumin, sea salt, cayenne pepper, and turmeric and blend until smooth.
3. When the vegetables are done, add them to the blender and blend until very smooth.
4. Transfer the sauce to a medium-large sauce pan over low heat. Heat for 20 minutes, whisking frequently to avoid burning. It should thicken up a bit and be velvety smooth when it's done. Remove from the burner and whisk in the lemon juice.
5. Add desired amount atop organic corn chips and store the leftovers in an airtight container. Re-heat in a sauce pan over low heat for a few minutes when needed.

For the tempeh:
1. While the nacho cheese is heating on the stovetop, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil.
2. In a medium bowl, crumble the tempeh with your hands to make small pieces. Add in the tamari, cumin and sea salt and mix well.
3. Add the tempeh crumbles to the pre-heated skillet and cook for 15-20 minutes, flipping once or twice throughout, or until lightly browned. 

To assemble:
1. Place as many corn chips (or brown rice tortilla chips) as you'd like on a medium serving dish. Pour on desired amount of "cheese" sauce. Add the tempeh crumbles, and your desired amount of red onion, green olives, guacamole, salsa, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro. Let your taste buds enjoy the masterpiece you've created! :-)

"They nod in agreement; you raise an eyebrow of doubt. They just know the answer; you just know the answer raises more questions. They take security in staying on the narrow path; you take security in carving a path of your own." Seth Andrews


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