Tag Archives: rice

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad

Okay, I’m posting on Thanksgiving Day (Canada), but I’d better warn you that this isn’t a Thanksgiving dinner recipe … it’s a recipe that carries a lot of thanks though! I’m so thankful that I came across this yummy recipe and I’m sharing it with you to give you thanks for reading my blog! See, it is about Thanksgiving after all!

I’ve been dying to share this Mexican dish with you for ages. This recipe was inspired by Oh My Veggies The Ultimate Vegan Taco Salad. I have made this countless times – for a family dinner party, for friends, many times just for “Tom” and I, each time a bit different and each time delicious. I’m a big fan of Mexican food and I love to find ways to spice up different combinations of plant based foods to give it a south-of-the-border (south of the USA border, that is, not south of the Canada border) taste. See my menu for a Mexican Fiesta for other Mexi taste treats.

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The original premise was to replace taco meat with something that resembles ground meat in both taste and look, but is not meat. The original recipe calls for farro to serve this purpose. Spice it up a lot and serve it with lots of fresh vegetables and beans and you’ve got a vegan taco salad. Well, I’ve made this with farro, with spelt, with short-grained brown rice, with potato cubes. I’ve used black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, refried beans. I usually leave out the tortilla chips, sometimes serve them on the side and occasionally crumble them on top. Anyway, the variations are endless and hinge on the ingredients on hand, time, purpose and food craving of the moment! So here is the basic recipe followed by my variations/additions:

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad

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1 cup farro, cooked *

1/2 cup mild salsa (I use Herdez)

2 tsps chili powder

2 tsps ground cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

pinch cayenne pepper

salt to taste

1 head iceberg lettuce (or Romaine lettuce), shredded

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped, or several grape tomatoes, halved

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans **

1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)

2 avocados

juice of 1/2 lime

2 tsps finely minced garlic

1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

optional – crushed tortilla chips

salsa

Cook your farro in a rice cooker using 3 cups of water to one cup of  farro. Once cooked, stir in the salsa, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt. You can stir everything together right in the rice cooker. If you are cooking the farro in a pot, once the water has been absorbed and the grain is soft, stir everything straight into the pot with the farro.

Make the guacamole by scooping out the insides of the avocados into a bowl, adding in the lime juice and garlic and mashing everything together.

Assemble the salad by laying down all the lettuce on a platter. Sprinkle on the tomatoes, then the black beans, then the corn. Spread the guacamole over top (or dollop it on all over as it’s kind of hard to spread). Finally, spoon the farro all over the platter. If you want, you can sprinkle on the green onions, cilantro and crushed chips or you can serve them all on the side for diners to add to their plates/bowls as they want.

* instead of farro you can use spelt, wheat berries or short grain brown rice. You can even use potatoes – chop about 4 potatoes into little cubes, toss with a bit of oil and roast in a single layer in the oven at 400 degrees; stir in the salsa and spices.

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** use 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed) or you can use your own homecooked beans. I cook our beans in a slow cooker on high for about 3 to 4 hours, drain, cool, dole out into freezer bags in 1 1/2 cup portions, freeze. Another option is to omit the black beans from the salad and serve some refried beans on the side. You could try this recipe for crock pot refried beans or just heat up a can of refrieds.

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Mexican Fiesta!

Over Christmas, “Tom” and I were fortunate enough to go to Mexico for a week. We stayed in a beautiful resort on the Mayan Riviera with a large family group. This was our first visit to Mexico. Some highlights of our trip were hiking along the stretch of wild beach next to the resort,

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swimming in cenotes in the Jungle Maya,

Splash!

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attending a Mayan cleansing ceremony,

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watching Mayan dancers,

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and eating authentic Mexican food. Ah, Mexican food … I love it! And you would think a trip to Mexico would mean plenty of it … not so in our case. You see, the resorts have to cater to a wide variety of clientele and so the food choices were all over the place, but with an emphasis on what you could call “western”. I had no problem eating vegan what with all the salads and fresh fruit, but it was very difficult to find good Mexican food on the resort. There was a Mexican restaurant, but it was very meat heavy and very spice light. The main buffet had Mexican food – tortillas in green or red sauce, refried beans, fresh salsa (with no chili spice), avocado sauce – but only at breakfast.

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Our best Mexican food experience was in the Jungle Maya where we were treated to authentic Mayan cooking prepared over charcoal stoves in clay pots and pans. Yum! (Unfortunately, no photos.)

When we got home from Mexico, I knew I wanted to cook up a Mexican meal. Seeing as it was our turn to host the dinner party (see here for more info on that), I decided to do a Mexican theme.

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Here is the menu:

mojitos

make your own tacos:

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roasted chipotle cauliflower

imageroasted poblano vegie toss

“black nachos” – roasted portabello mushrooms

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refried black beans

lime rice

roasted corn rounds

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fresh salsa

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guacamole

chipotle crema

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fresh fruit

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And here’s how I made it:

 Roasted Chipotle Cauliflower

(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

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1 head cauliflower, separated into florets

2 tsps. chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp chipotle paste

juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. water

Mix all ingredients except cauliflower together in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat all pieces. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, toss, bake another 10 minutes or so depending on the size of the florets. Bake until fork tender, but not too soft as they will become mushy as they cool.

Roasted Poblano Vegie Toss

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1 poblano pepper, roasted and diced

2 zucchini, cut into 6 cm long strips

2 bell peppers, diced

Roast the pepper by spraying it with oil, placing under the broiler for 5 minutes with the over door ajar. Turn the pepper over using tongs, broil for another 5 minutes, turn, another 5 minutes, etc. until blackened. Let the pepper rest for 5 minutes or so, then peel off the skin and scrape out the seeds and membrane.

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In a large pan, saute the zucchini and peppers together. As they begin to soften, add in the diced poblano pepper and saute and toss everything together.

Roasted Portabello Mushrooms – or BLACK NACHOS as “Tom” nicknamed them!

(adapted from Keepin’ It Kind)

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12 baby portabello mushrooms

2 tbsps. Bragg liquid

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp. chili infused olive oil

Mix all the ingredients except the mushrooms in a large bowl. Add the sliced mushrooms and toss to coat all the mushrooms. Do this quickly before the marinade is absorbed completely be the bottom layer of mushrooms only. Spread mushrooms out on a large baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, toss, bake for another 10 minutes.

Lime Rice

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1 cup rice of your choice (I think we used white basmati)

1 lime, zested and juiced

Cook the rice. At the end of the cooking time, stir in the zest and the juice from the lime.

Salsa

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4 plum tomatoes, finely diced

1/2 white onion, finely diced

4 stalks green onions, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (seeds and membrane removed)

splash of lime juice

1/2 tsp salt

Combine everything together. Taste and adjust by adding more salt or lime juice.

Chipotle Crema

(adapted from Oh My Veggies)

3/4 cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp chipotle paste

1/4 cup + water

salt and pepper

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Keep adding water until you get the consistency you desire, either thick or more thinned out. Blend for at least 5 minutes.

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Sushi Lasagna

Last weekend, I had an urge to make sushi, inspired by several posts on other food blogs that I subscribe to. “Tom” and I often do sushi as a take out treat – not true sushi, mind you, with fish and stuff, just simple, but delicious, vegie rolls, avocado rolls, maybe a mango vegie roll if we can get it. We even, sometimes, do the some-kind-of-deep-fried-vegetable roll, but I really prefer the fresh, raw vegetables in my sushi. By the way, did you know that “sushi” actually refers to the rice? Rice that is vinegared and sweetened? Did you know that the Earl of Sandwich of England and Hanaya Yohei of Japan have something in common? They both invented a portable way to eat their supper, rather than sitting down to a meal, so that they didn’t need to take a break from gambling! The Earl of Sandwich invented – you guessed it – the sandwich, and Hanaya invented sushi – bit of fish wrapped up in rice specially prepared to preserve the fish. Nowadays, you can buy all kinds of sushi. Sushi bars and restaurants regularly turn out some new twist on sushi. Well, I decided to make my own sushi twist – sushi lasagna! (Thanks to my colleague, M., for suggesting this name). Sushi Lasagna came about when I wanted to make sushi, but didn’t want to go through the bother of rolling. To tell you the truth, I’m just not a very good roller! My burritos are too fat, I rip my fresh spring rolls and my sushi rolls are far from elegant. So, I thought I’d just layer all the ingredients in a baking dish – easy! no rolling! no fuss! Great for linear thinking people like myself! Great for people with limited patience for slow, precise and presentation!

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Here’s how I did it:

I chopped up some vegetables.

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I used shredded carrots, slivered green onions, slivered red pepper and thinly sliced cucumber. If I’d had some avocado around I would have used some of that as well.

I had some white sushi rice kicking around the cupboard, but I wanted to up the nutritional value so I cooked up 3/4 cup white sushi rice and 3/4 cup short grained brown rice. I cooked the rices separately in the rice cooker – the white rice cooks up really quickly – then I mixed and fluffed the two types of rice together. When the rice was cool, I added about 2 tbsps. rice vinegar, 1 tbsp. agave nectar, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and tossed the rice again.

Then I started to layer.

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I started by putting down a thin layer of rice on the bottom of the glass baking pan. On top of this I laid down a sheet of  nori seaweed, then another, thicker layer of rice. The sliced cucumbers went on top of this and I also evenly sprinkled on the green onion slivers, but before I added the green onion, I spread on a thin layer of horseradish.

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Now, here’s the story with the horseradish. First of all, did you know that wasabi is horseradish? Yes it is! (Something else the Earl of Sandwich and Hanaya Yohei have in common)! I like wasabi, but I wanted to find a way to add it into the sushi without it being too overwhelming. I tried mixing some wasabi powder in with some vegan mayo, but I didn’t like the taste very much. Then I thought about using some Japanese mayo, but I couldn’t find any that didn’t have MSG in it. Then I searched the supermarket shelves for creamy horseradish and was just about to give up because the ingredients always included eggs and/or milk and long, unpronounceable words that were probably preservatives. Finally, at the end of all hope, I found this little jar of Horseradish. It was creamy, but without cream. Here is the ingredient list (sorry, the picture is a little blurry – my camera hand was shaking too much from excitement!):

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So back to the recipe … spread on your horseradish, then sprinkle on those green onion slivers. Next comes another sheet of nori and another layer of rice, spread evenly and pressed down. Then, on goes the red peppers and grated carrots, a final sheet of nori and a final layer of rice. You could spread some more of that horseradish on the last nori sheet before adding the rice if you like. Press everything down carefully.

Done!

Slice into squares with a sharp knife and serve with soy sauce or tamari sauce, some wasabi or some more horseradish.

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