Monday, March 4, 2013

"Pinspiring" Recipe #2- Vegan Taco Salad

When I originally saw this recipe, I automatically thought it could be adapted to be like the mouthwatering veggie burrito bowl at Chipotle. Oh, that heaping mountain of guacamole will make me sacrifice meat on any given visit. It is so worth it! But, alas my adaptation does not contain those awesome fajita veggies which truly qualify it as a true "veggie" burrito bowl. So I can't really call it a Shortcut Veggie Burrito Bowl as previously documented in this week's menu post. I guess it really is more of a salad with rice added to it. But, it has everything else I love about my beloved veggie burrito bowl and it's served in a bowl. I was too consumed with tricking my husband into eating vegan cuisine. Guess what? It worked! Justin knew the dish was vegetarian, but had no idea the "sour cream" was not truly sour cream. The taco meat? Walnuts and lentils. The Bear was impressed. That is sometimes hard to do on a "meatless Monday."

I have to give mad props to Angela from Oh She Glows. Angela, hands down, is one of my favorite bloggers. A pioneer in vegan cuisine, she could make even the most carnivorous consumer eat vegan and possibly not even know it. There is nothing that I don't admire about her blog. Her writing, recipes, and photography are some of the reason I wanted to share my gluten-free journey with you. So, I absolutely had to add this to the cut for the week of pinspiration.

This recipe can be put together in a flash because there is no cooking involved. If you have prepared lentils and rice on hand, everything can be put together in under 30 minutes. Angela's recipe originally calls for walnuts in the taco meat, but I added lentils to bulk it up and get more mileage out of the walnuts. Those suckers are not cheap! I also added some additional spices to add more smoky flavors. For the cream sauce, I used blanched slivered almonds in place of the macadamia nuts because they were on sale at my grocery store. The trick to get your nuts more like the consistency of meat and to soften the almonds for the cream sauce is to soak them for 8 hours or overnight. Here is my version...

Vegan Taco Salad
adpated from Angela Lidon's Layered Raw Taco Salad

For the taco meat:

1 cup English walnuts, soaked for 8 hours or overnight
2 cups cooked lentils
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

For the nut cream sauce:

1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds, soaked for 8 hours or overnight
1/4 cup water, plus more if needed
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the salad:

1 bag cut and cleaned romaine lettuce
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice

Additional toppings:

Prepared guacamole such as Wholly Guacamole

To prepare the taco meat: Drain the soaked walnuts. Place all ingredients in you food processor. Pulse until combined and consistency of ground beef. Set aside.

To prepare the nut cream: Drain the soaked almonds. Place all ingredients in your food processor. Process until smooth, stopping and scraping the sides down with a spatula to make sure everything combines. Add more water if needed to resemble the consistency of sour cream.

To assemble the salad: Divide the lettuce up evenly among four bowls. Add 1/2 cup brown rice, cilantro, and a sprinkle of lime juice. Top the rice with taco meat, nut cream, and any additional toppings such as guacamole and salsa.

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