Friday, July 22, 2016

Recipe Post - Cheezy Quinoa Burritos and Warm Nacho Dip (Vegan).

For quite some time now, I have been leaning more and more toward a vegan diet - long story short, I notice a HUGE difference in how I feel when I avoid animal products. Not just physically, although there are definitely physical health benefits, but it seems my mental clarity is affected by eating meat and dairy. Perhaps it's just in my mind, but I don't care - I feel better, I am enjoying feeling better, therefore, I will continue down this path.

No doctor told me to do this to help with aching joints, swollen hands, and brain fog - I decided to try it, and had I never tried it, I would never have known. We all make choices.

I enjoy knowing that my meal did not cause any suffering to an animal. I have not always been someone who cared about compassion for animals, but now I am. Deal with it.

My husband is not a vegan or even vegetarian, but as we live in the same house and eat our meals together, we eat the same things. And if I'm cooking, chances are that the meal will be plant-based.

I really liked what we ate last night, and so did he. It's one of those dishes that I have been asked to make again - the nacho dip, we have had before on numerous occasions, it's a fan favourite in our household. The burritos were evolved from another recipe that we tried last week and liked, but agreed that it needed...more stuff.

Both these recipes originated from a fantastic vegan cookbook by Angela Liddon called Oh She Glows. I highly recommend this book, especially if you are new to vegan cooking, but ESPECIALLY if you live with a non-vegan. Everything I have made from this book, my omnivore husband has liked, and that is saying a lot!

Both recipes have been adapted and added on-to by myself.

Recipe 1: The Warm Nacho Dip

For the cheeze sauce:
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp pureed garlic from a jar)
1 1/4 tsp fine-grain salt
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2/3 cup water
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

For the dip:
1 cup chunky salsa
1/2 to 1 cup chopped yellow or sweet onion
2 to 3 handfuls of baby spinach, roughly chopped

Making it: First, preheat the oven to 425F and lightly grease an oven-safe baking dish.
Boil the chopped carrots until fork-tender, drain, let cool for a few minutes, then place in a blender. Drain and rinse the soaked cashews and add them to the blender. Add all the other cheeze sauce ingredients and blend until it's a smooth sauce. You may have to add a little more water, but the sauce should be quite thick.
In a large bowl, mix together the salsa, onion and spinach, then add the sauce and mix it all together. Put it in the baking dish, and sprinkle some crushed tortilla chips or panko on top, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden on top. Serve with tortilla chips or pita bread.

Recipe 2: The Cheezy Quinoa Burrito

Another version of Cheeze sauce:
3/4 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least two hours (the longer you soak them, the smoother the sauce will be)
1 clove garlic or 1/2 tsp pureed garlic
1/2 cup unsweetened, un-flavoured almond milk
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp mustard (yellow or Dijon)
1 tsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1/2 fine-grain salt

For the burrito filling:
3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
Handful of cocktail or marzano tomatoes, quartered
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Make the cheeze sauce - the process is about the same as for the dip - place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. This sauce will be a bit thicker than the sauce for the dip.

Make the burritos: First, cook the quinoa according to the instructions on the package, and set aside.
Heat up a large pan and add some olive oil and cook the onions and garlic together until the onion is soft and slightly translucent (about 5 minutes, usually, over medium heat). Add the pepper and cook for another few minutes, until it begins to soften. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the beans and corn, mix it all up. If using frozen corn, cook until it is thawed before adding anything else. Add the tomatoes, let them cook down for a couple of minutes, then add the spices. Optional: add in a handful or two of baby spinach at the end and cook until the spinach is wilted down.

In a large bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa and the cheeze sauce. Then add the veggies you just cooked, and mix it all together. Stuff into tortillas (we used the half corn, half wheat kind), roll them up and bake at 425F for 8-10 minutes. I also put guacamole and some hot sauce in the burritos, but that's entirely optional.

I am not great at food photography, but here it is.

This is a very filling dish - One burrito kept me comfortably stuffed all night. It seems like a lot of ingredients, but both dishes are actually quite easy to make (or I would not be making them). Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you made either of these :)

-M.

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