October 24, 2012

Recipe: Taco Salad and Best Ever Guacamole

This is probably my husband's favourite healthy dinner - a raw layered taco salad.  It packed with flavour and texture, and is meat and soy free.  Soaked nuts form the basis for both the taco "meat" and "sour cream".  It is a relatively easy recipe, but has a number of steps all requiring the food processor so it does take some time to clean and set up each step. 

Walnuts are soaked then drained and pulsed in a food processor with taco seasoning spices, and the result is surprisingly similar in taste to ground taco meat but with a lighter, less chewy texture.

After you soak your cashews, they will easily blend.  When you add water and a pinch of lemon juice, the pureed cashews become a rich cream, similar in creaminess and taste to sour cream.

The guacamole is foolproof: simply add all ingredients to the food processor and blend for about a minute, until all ingredients are pureed.  If you like a chunkier guacamole, simply mince your onions, garlic and cilantro before adding to the processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached.  I make mine creamy just because it involves less prep.

The result is fresh and creamy guacamole which can be used in this salad, as a dip for nacho chips, or even in a layer dip (vegan layer dip recipe coming soon!).

Now it's time to assemble your salad.  I use butter lettuce as I find it has a nice light crisp to it.  I have also made this salad with chopped romaine which works well.  Assemble your salads by starting with a bed of greens.  Sprinkle taco "meat" and layer on sour cream, guacamole and salsa. Enjoy!

Taco Salad 
Serves 2

Walnut "meat"
1/2 cup raw walnut pieces, soaked for 2-4 hours
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp dried oregano 
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of cumin
Drain walnuts.  Combine all ingredients in food processor and pulse until walnuts are in ground-beef-sized crumbs.

Cashew "sour cream"
1/2 c raw cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours
1/2 c + 2 tbsp water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp sea salt

Drain cashews and puree in food processor, stopping to scrape down processor sides.  With processor running, slowly add water until smooth paste forms.  Add lemon juice and sea salt to processor and puree.

Best Ever Guacamole
1 avocado
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
1/4 c cilantro
juice of 1 small lime
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients to food processor and mix for approx 1 minute until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

To assemble Taco Salad
1 head of butter lettuce
1 recipe of Walnut "Meat"
1 recipe of Cashew "Sour Cream"
1 recipe of "Best Ever Guacamole"
1/4 c salsa

Divide butter lettuce leaves between 2 dishes.  Top each with even sprinkle of walnut meat, and dollops of cashew sour cream, guacamole and salsa, dividing each between the two salads..

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