Vegan Taco Meat

One of these tacos is really enough for one person, though it’s tempting to have another, and they do make for deliciously messy eating. There’s something very satisfying about munching into a large handful of salad-y stuff wrapped in a tortilla with all the different flavors vying for your attention. Tacos are very informal fare, and can be presented as a DIY type meal, with a refried bean or taco meat base, and various toppings to chose from.

The taco meat that I outline below is moderately spicy, though its flavor is tempered by the other ingredients in the taco. Tacos are usually made with corn tortillas, but I’d seriously advise against commercially produced ones, as they are remarkably similar to cardboard, but don’t taste as good. Home-made corn tortillas are a different matter altogether, as are home made GF tortillas.

Update: This freezes well. The tofu firms up slightly which is actually quite a good variation.

tacos

Tacos with tender, spicy, tofu, taco meat, lettuce, avocado, baby tomatoes, and fresh cilantro.

4 – 8 servings

2 tsp oil
1/2 medium (1/4 large) onion, chopped
16 oz mixed bell peppers (frozen pepper strips work fine), sliced and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili powder (or paprika with some chili added), or to taste
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp mushroom powder (optional, rounds out the flavors)
1 1/4 tsp salt (optionally, extra 1/2 tsp)
14 oz firm tofu, frozen and defrosted (at least once)

8 corn or other GF 6-8” tortillas
romaine lettuce, shredded
fresh tomatoes, diced
diced/sliced avocado or guacamole
Mexican rice (optional)
refried beans (optional)
red onion, diced (optional)
fresh cilantro (leaf coriander)
fajitas (lightly fried slivers of onion, peppers, courgette/zucchini) (optional)

To make the taco meat:

Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan over a medium heat, and gently cook the onion, peppers, and garlic until softened.

Add the chili, salt, paprika, and cumin to the vegetables,, and cook for 10 minutes.

Blend the sauce until fairly smooth. If it is too thick to blend, add up to 8 fl oz (1 cup) of water and expect to simmer much of this off, later.

By hand, squeeze the excess water out of the tofu, and crumble it into the sauce.

Simmer until the sauce has been absorbed by the tofu (~5-10 minutes), stirring occasionally.

Adjust seasoning (including heat) to taste.

To make the tacos:

On each tortilla, lay a stripe of taco meat/refried beans, and on top of that a stripe of any or all of the other options, finishing with the salad ingredients. Fold the sides of the tortilla up, and eat with your hands.

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Pommes Dauphinoise

Pommes Dauphinoise, potatoes fit for a prince, is a rich, warming, indulgent, side dish for formal occasions. It’s also very easy to make, and needs very little attention once it’s been composed, so it’s a great side dish for dinner parties when you don’t want to be fussing with food too much, because you’d rather be socializing. I happen to like plenty of garlic in mine, but you could reduce it by half if you really had to. Although it’s naturally gluten free, this dish is normally loaded with cream. This version is still rather decadent, but in a veganized, and somewhat healthier fashion.

Pommes Dauphinoise

Serves 4 – 6

3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz.) white wine (or water)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
6 cloves garlic
1 tsp nutritional yeast
3 cups (24 fl. oz) water
5 – 6 large potatoes (2 1/2 – 3 lbs), peeled and thinly sliced

Put the cashews, wine, nutmeg, salt sugar, lemon juice, garlic, and nutritional yeast in a blender, and process until smooth. Add the water, and process to combine.

Transfer the sauce to a saucepan, and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Simmer for a minute to thicken the sauce, which helps it to adhere to the potato slices. Check for seasoning.

Layer one of the potatoes in a shallow baking dish (such as an 8” by 12” lasagna dish), and pour a small amount of hot sauce over it, and repeat with the other potatoes, making sure that the final layer is completely covered with sauce even though the sauce doesn’t fill the dish.

Set the oven to 400F, and cook for 50-60 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked (test by stabbing the middle of the potatoes with a fork.)

Serve as a side dish for a formal meal, or as a rich side to complement a tart main dish.

Aside: This can also be cooked in the microwave. Make sure the dish is microwaveable, and cook on HIGH for 5 minutes at a time, turning and checking the potatoes for softness between each cooking period. Depending on the power of your microwave, it will probably be done in 15 to 30 minutes. Place under a hot grill (broiler) to brown the top.