I’ve never really been the sort of person to order nachos in a restaurant, but recently, at my new favourite place in NYC, Jajaja Plantas Mexicana, I did. I love a creative vegan / plant-based / healthy spin on conventional recipes, and so was tempted by these fully loaded vegan nachos. And they were, in my opinion, better than any diner-style, grease-ridden nacho fare you’ve tried before. And more functional and nutritious too! Just hear me out.
This recipe involves plant-based variations of common nacho toppings, such as cheese (which is replaced by a cashew and vegetable based cheese sauce) and meat (which is replaced by a vegan, tofu-based alternative). This is such a simple recipe, really, and you can customise it in as many ways as you like, in terms of the variety of toppings you use. I love to keep it relatively simple, opting for cubed or mashed avocado, this incredible queso fundido sauce, and either meat or a vegan alternative. You could also add black beans, homemade refried beans (basically just pureed or mashed pinto beans with a few spices), sour cream or vegan sour cream, chillis, homemade tomato salsa; I could go on and on.
This recipes genuinely takes about half an hour to make and assemble. The queso fundido probably takes the longest, as theres cooking time factored in for the vegetables involved, but most of the hard work is done by the blender. The tofu ‘meat’ is super quick and simple, and then all you’ve got to do is whack it on top of a bunch of tortilla chips, or better yet, serve them in separate bowls and let those eating with you pick and mix their own toppings.
You could also serve this queso fundido cheese sauce and tofu chilli / chorizo ‘meat’ with tortilla wraps, adding salad, rice or other grains and vegetables to make a burrito-style dish. Or, serve them in a bowl with salad leaves and brown rice or other grains, for a more filling meal.
1 bag tortilla chips
1 ripe avocado, cubed or mashed
1-2 limes, cut into wedges
For the Vegan Queso Fundido Sauce
1 large carrot, chopped
150g potato, cubed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon juice from a fresh lemon or lime
8 tablespoons nutritional yeast (can substitute this for vegan cheese or conventional cheese, for non-vegan)
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon tamari
75g raw cashews
150g-200g unsweetened plant-based milk (or water)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic and / or onion powder
A few handfuls of vegan cheese (or conventional cheese for non-vegan)
1/4-1/2 fresh red chilli or 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or chilli flakes
For the Tofu Chilli / Chorizo
1 tablespoon coconut oil, olive oil or sunflower oil
200g firm tofu (could also use tempeh)
100g mushrooms, diced into tiny pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon garlic powder (or 1 fresh garlic clove, minced)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 fresh red chilli, diced
Start by making the queso sauce.
Bring the potato and carrot to the boil in a medium saucepan over a high head. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the potato and carrot become soft, but be careful not to overcook them, as if the potatoes become too soft and starchy, they won’t blend as well.
In a saucepan, combine 3 tablespoons of oil, lemon or lime juice, nutritional yeast and / or vegan cheese or conventional cheese, apple cidre vinegar, turmeric, paprika, coriander, tomato puree, mustard and tamari and sauté over a medium heat. Stir to combine and then add the cashews and finally your plant-based milk of choice. Stir continuously to combine and simmer until the potato and carrots are cooked.
Then, add the potato and carrots to the frying pan mixture, remove from the heat and stir a final time to combine.
Transfer to a high speed blender and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, then blend for 1-2 minutes, until smooth. Blend on the highest speed possible and, if necessary, add a splash more oil, plant-based milk or some boiling water to help the ingredients to run through the machine smoothly. Blend until the mixture becomes a thick liquid texture with absolutely no lumps. Depending on the strength and speed of your blender, this could be up to 4-5 minutes.
Once you are happy with the consistency, transfer to a bowl and set aside. You can either place in the fridge if you plan to serve cold, or leave at room temperature and heat up in a saucepan before serving. If using the extra vegan cheese or conventional cheese from the ‘optional’ ingredients list, transfer the blended mixture back into a saucepan and add the cheese. Stir over a medium heat to combine, until melted. If using vegan cheese or conventional cheese, I’d suggest serving it hot, as it may tend to solidify as it cools.
Next make the tofu chilli / chorizo. Simply heat the oil in a frying pan and then crumble the firm tofu into the pan, using your hands. Crumble the tofu until it makes a consistency similar to mince meat.
Next, add all of the remaining ingredients to the pan, and stir to combine. Cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously, for 10 minutes, until the tofu begins to brown and toughen slightly.
Remove from the heat and either keep in the pan if you plan to top the tortilla chips with it, or transfer to a bowl if you plan to serve on the table.
Finally, arrange the tortilla chips on a plate and either serve all of the components individually on the table, or top the tortilla chips with the toppings, as desired. I added the cubed avocado first, then the tofu chilli / chorizo, and then the queso fundido sauce (either chilled or heated through). I’d also add a dollop of smashed avocado and a handful of fresh coriander, as final garnishes. Now would be the time to add any other toppings, too, such as black beans, refried beans, sour cream, tomato salsa, etc, or work the ingredients into burritos.