by Jeff Roberts |
The day I decided to embrace a plant-based diet was the day I said farewell to one of my dearest true loves, nachos. Perhaps this was a good decision for many reasons, but I couldn’t help but envision all of the guilty pleasures that were now exiled from the temptatious depths of my belly.
Little did I know those former yearnings would soon be met by a superior adversary, however. For those who haven’t gotten their hands on Angela Liddon’s The Oh She Glows Cookbook yet, I think it’s time you request an early birthday gift, because this recipe book effectively captures the best of what a plant-based diet has to offer, and then some.
Filled with page after page of esthetically delectable recipes, Angela truly goes above and beyond to create recipes that suit the modern day foodie, taking into account sensitivities of all kind, including gluten, soy, nut, oil, sugar and more.
But let’s get back to business here, that is, the business of nachos. The ‘life-affirming nacho dip‘ was a recipe I had the chance to try out this past weekend during an un-Valentine’s day appie night. My mind was blown to say the least.
How could a recipe that uses almost no added oil or cheese taste so ‘cheesy’? Well, it involves a team of ingredients that work together to create a flavour palette authentically similar to cheese.
Nutritional yeast (NY) is one of these key ingredients. NY is known to have a rich, zesty flavour profile that adds a cheesy taste to sauces, dressings, or whatever else it is sprinkled on. It is a complete protein loaded with B-vitamins, making it a delicious and nutritious addition to your cooking. When NY is combined with some salt, lemon, and spices, a cheese flavour is born.
But the real culprit of the smooth and rich texture of the dip comes from the soaked cashews. Once cashews are given a few hours to soak they can be blended at high speed to create a velvety smooth cream. A great mineral source, cashews contain 31% of the daily recommended value for copper, along with 23% for manganese, 20% for magnesium and 17% for phosphorus,add to that 12% of the daily recommended value for vitamin K.
Besides that, the dip also contains a fair amount of spinach, as well as minced carrot. Who knew a dip so tasty could be guilt-free!?
I did make a few minor revisions to Angela’s recipe however. First, I added chopped jalapenos for a spicy kick. I also upped the nutritional yeast from 2 tablespoons to 6 tablespoons for extra zest. I was over-zealous with the spinach because I knew the leaves would shrink in the oven once baked and wanted to add extra nutrition. Lastly, I didn’t have ‘chunky marinara sauce’ like the recipe called for. Instead, I used a chunky salsa, and the results were amazing.
This one is a definite guilt-free party pleaser, enjoy!
The Ultimate Guilt-Free Vegan Nacho Dip
Serves 8. Prep-time: 25-30 minutes. Cook-time: 25-30 minutes.
gluten-free option, oil-free, soy-free, sugar-free, grain-free.
What You’ll Need:
1 cup (250 mL) raw cashews (soaked for minimum two hours or overnight)
1 cup (250 mL) peeled/chopped carrots
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup chunky salsa
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 chopped jalapeno pepper
4 handfuls of chopped spinach
1/3 cup crushed corn chips or bread crumbs for topping
1-2 green onion for garnish
Chips or crackers for dipping (I used Mary’s Crackers)
1.) Make the Cheese Sauce. Place the cashews in a bowl, add water and cover for 2 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
2.) Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Lightly grease a casserole dish or 2-quart cast iron pan.
3.) Place carrots in a small sauce pan and add water to simmer for 5 minutes until tender. I added some garlic powder, salt, and pepper for flavour.
4.) In blender, combine soaked cashews, nutritional yeast, carrots, lemon juice, cayenne pepper, garlic, salt, chili powder, onion powder, and 2/3 cup water or coconut milk and blend until silky smooth. You may need to add more water if too thick. Pour into a large bowl.
5.) Make the dip: stir salsa, onion, spinach, and jalapeno into the cheese sauce until fully combined. Pour into baking dish and smooth out the top. Sprinkle corn chips or bread crumbs on top.
6.) Bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered, watching closely toward the end of the cooking time to make sure the corn chip topping doesn’t burn. Garnish with sliced green onion and serve once cooled.
You can store this dish for about 3-5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Happy eating!