ULTIMATE Vegan Nachos w/ Lentil Taco Meat, Cashew Queso, and MORE
Welcome! Before we get started...you'll need soaked cashews for this recipe (1 1/2 cups). I hate when a recipe tells me something I need while cooking. So if you are making this dish, you'll need a few hours to soak cashew!
Back to our programming. Holy shit, we're doing this! Welcome, welcome, thank you. What is this?
For years, I have been a vegan and a lover of delicious food. I'm also a male. For whatever reason, I feel it necessary to point that out. Why? I've been watching other food blogs grow, experimenting with recipes, cooking great food, and developing my skills. What I found was a void. So many wonderful blogs but not much focus on making delicious foods like vegan burgers, nachoes, sandwiches, etc. I'm a vegan, but I'm also a dude. Just because I don't prefer killing animals doesn't mean I can't appreciate the joy of eating tacos, mozzarella sticks, steak, etc. People eat them because well it tastes good. BUT...what if cauliflower tasted as good as meat. And why is it that a steak means an animal. Why couldn't it mean beets?
Let's break some damn rules. Let's eat some good food, and let's do something good for our heart and our planet. I'm not a bleeding heart vegan, but I know my heart is going to bleed a lot longer by forgoing meat. Meat is also considered by some the #1 pollutant to our planet.
I'm going to make AWESOME food that's always vegan. Always gluten free. Always healthier than the original version. Join me for this ride.
We start today with Ultimate Vegan Nachos. Let's just be honest - this shit's unreal!
So what's in these delicious nachos. We start with a base of baked tortilla chips. Why not just use regular chips? Well, baked ones are healthier and actually a bit crunchier which makes them perfect for nachos. What's the best part of nachos for most men and women? Taco Meat + Cheese. How the hell are we going to accomplish this?
Lentils + Cashews. Lentils are a delicious hearty legume that have a similar texture when cooked to taco meat as well as are malleable to flavor. Cashews are amazingly dynamic. If soaked, they soften and can be transformed into a thicker liquid...perfect for queso. The taco meat blends a typical spice blend with lentils and then is roughly chopped. Very similar texture and an amazing flavor. But CHEESE? HOWWWW?
Here's the blend...
The nutritional yeast gives you a cheesy delicious flavor, the cashews add a thickness and act as a lovely base. The jalapeno has been broiled, so it gives you a nice smoky flavor. Finally, we use a great blend of spices to give it amazing flavor.
Other items that I think make it amazing is my secret guacamole recipe (don't worry...I'll be sharing it down below) called Guac Nirvana, white beans, heirloom tomatoes, salsa, arugula, pickled jalapenos, and cilantro.
Now, what is GUAC NIRVANA. When I was a teen, I worked at On the Border. Oh yes, that somewhat terrible Mexican food chain with stiff drinks and overpriced food. During that time, I had a really great job - guac artist. Oh yes, guac artist. What was that? Well, I would roam table to table live preparing guacamole for the patrons, customizing it, and making them Along that route, I learned a lot of various techniques and got interested in guac. The secret to a good guac - no tomatoes, salt + lime juice, and charred poblano pepper!
This dish is a great place to start because it is easy to make, easy to eat, and god damn delicious.
Who doesn't like nachos. Let's get to it.
ULTIMATE Vegan Nachos w/ Lentil Taco Meat, Cashew Queso, and Guac Nirvana
Prep Time: 3-4 hours (soak cashews)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Baked Tortilla Chips
- 12 corn tortillas (small)
- 1.5 tbls of avocado oil
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- sea salt, to taste (I like smoked sea salt or pink sea salt)
Lentil Taco Meat
- 1 cup french green lentils, washed
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbl avocado oil (or olive oil)
- 1/2 cup roasted tomato salsa (or whatever you prefer, it provides a flavor profile)
- 2 tbl nutritonal yeast
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Sweet Potato Chips
- large sweet potato
- 2 tsp light oil (safflower, sunflower, grapeseed)
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 3-4 hours and 1 hour in very hot water
- 1 large jalapeño
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (for cheesy flavor + yellow color)
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup water + 1 tbl
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 avocados, slightly soft to the touch but some firmness still. Not super firm and not really soft.
- 1 lime
- 1/4 cup orange pepper, chopped
- 1/4 cup radish, chopped
- 1 corn on cob, kernels cut off
- 1/4 cup poblano, chopped
- small handful of cilantro
- 3 tbl carrots, chopped
- 1 small shallot, chopped
- 15oz can white northern beans, drained + washed
- 1/2 cup arugula
- medium heirloom tomato, chopped
- 1/3 cup pickled jalapenos
- 1/4 cup roasted tomato salsa
- 1/4 cup tomatillo salsa
1. Cashews need soaked in water for at least a few hours or boil water and pour on cashews and soak for an hour.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
Stack all 12 tortillas on top of each other. Cut the tortilla stack so each tortilla makes 6 chips. I start by halving it, rotating, halving, rotating, halving for 6 nice sized tortillas that look like a chip.
Throw the cut tortillas into a bowl, add oil, and toss gently. Add spices one at a time and toss in between each spice so we get equal coating.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Need the paper. Direct onto baking sheet or pan will burn them. Place the chips on the baking sheet with a little room between each chip. See picture above to see my spacing. You may need two sheets.
Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes. At 10 minutes, turn up the oven to broil at 525 for 3-4 minutes. At this point, also add the jalapeno for the queso to the oven (put the whole thing in). You can put it on a baking sheet, piece of aluminim foil, or just set it right on the oven metal trays. Cook the jalapeno for 6-8 minutes until browned on the outside and busting a little bit at seams.
For the chips, after 3-4 minutes they should be crispy and just starting to brown. Pull them out just as they start to brown.
Set aside to cool. Set jalapeno aside to cool as well.
3. Add lentils to vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.
4. While the lentils are cooking, chop your large sweet potato into thin chips. I usually do them about 1/8 inch. it should look like an extra thick chip. Here's the secret to cooking potatoes. Microwave the chips for about 4 minutes with a tsp of water. Once done, mix the potatoes with oil and spices.
Put sweet potatoes into a pan on the stovetop over medium heat. I prefer a cast-iron pan but non-stick works as well. Cook the potatoes until they have a crisp, flip every couple minutes until done.
Set aside. If you want them really warm right at serving time, put them on the pan when you are ready to serve.
5. Lentils should be done at this point. Drain the lentils and mix them with the spices. Put a pan on medium low heat with oil and add lentils. We are going to cook them slowly while we prep the rest of the ingredients. Mix every couple minutes.
6. While the lentils are cooking, I prep everything else starting with the queso. Put all the ingredients (drain your cashews and make sure the jalapeno is cool enough to handle) into a food processor. Turn it on and let it do its magic for 30 seconds. Typically, I'll scrape down the edges and run it for a few more seconds to get a good mix and consistency. Set that aside in a medium bowl. If you like it nice and warm, throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds before serving.
7. For the guacamole, juice your lime into a medium sized serving bowl and add a couple pinches of salt to start. This is important as we want the ingredients to rest in this mixture. Next, add every ingredient other than the avocado. Mix it well and set aside. I like to do my avocados right at the end.
8. We're close. Drain the beans and put into a bowl (if you like them warm throw them in the microwave for 30-40 seconds). Put arugula, chopped heirloom tomato, jalapeños, and salsa into small serving dishes.
9. To finish this off, take the lentils off the stove. With a fork or utensil for stirring, mash the lentils a bit so some are whole and some are smashed. I serve them right from the pan to keep them hot but can also put into a bowl.
To cut the avocado, run a knife from the top to the bottom and back to the top on the other side, so you create two halves. Open up the avocados, and squeeze them out of the skin into the guac mixture. Mix it with a fork and spoon.
10. Serving time. As you can see, I create a smorgasbord of sorts. I like my guests or family to be able to mix and match ingredients they like. I serve everything as a spread and let them make their own. We usually fight over the baked chips, so you might have those on everyone's plate to start! I typically will throw some of the warm items into the microwave for 15-20 seconds just to get them warmed.
Lastly and most importantly, enjoy the hell out of it! Great work chef!
Nutritional Information (One Serving, All Ingredients):
Compare that to Del Taco Nachos with Ground Beef + Cheese:
It tastes better, and its better for you.