Monday, April 25, 2011

Vegetarian nachos

Breakfast: Banana and blueberry smoothie

Lunch: Scrambled eggs with feta and spinach, on top of potatoes

Dinner: Nachos with veggie mince and refried beans with home-made pico de gallo and guacamole

(Just a note: If ever you find yourself with a stale loaf of bread, as I did today, don’t just throw it away. Stale bread is perfect for turning into breadcrumbs and storing in the freezer for when you need them, to make Hana’s Tofu Balls or something of the like. Be thrifty and waste less, people!)

This recipe comes courtesy of Putin, whose idea it was to try these nachos. The cooking may have been a joint venture but the concept was his. Thanks, Putin!

Now, a big plate of nachos is almost the national dish in Canada, or at least it can seem like that when friends rant about not being able to get decent tortilla chips in the UK, and whenever you mention Sneaky Dees to a Torontonian their immediate response is “Yeah, they do killer nachos.” I am not quite so insane on them, but thanks to my wonderful chef friend Chris I know how to make a great pico de gallo (salsa) and so was much excited to make this meal when it was suggested. I also wanted to try making a very simple type of refried beans, as I never had before.

I know that some vegetarians don’t like to use veggie mince, but I’ve been using it sporadically since I was a carnivore. We used it back then over beef mince because it was more convenient – you can use it from frozen, its cheaper, and takes flavours amazingly – and now it’s a great compromise when cooking for meat eaters as they don’t lose the texture they’re so familiar with.

Pico de gallo
You’ll need:
2 big tomatoes, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lime
1 small red chili, deseeded
Handful of coriander

Mix together the tomatoes, red onion, garlic and the chili, allowing everything to get a little mashed if you prefer that consistency (as I do)
Stir in the lime juice and the coriander

Veggie Mince Mix
You’ll need:
340 veggie mince (Quorn or Yves are recommended)
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
300ml diced tomatoes

Fry the onion and garlic together for a couple of minutes, until they’re starting to brown
Add in the veggie mince, and fry for a couple more minutes
Throw in the tomatoes and stir, frying until all the liquid is gone and everything is mixed thoroughly

Easy Refried beans
You’ll need:
250ml kidney beans

Boil the beans with a little water
When they are cooked, mash – but not so they’re completely crushed, just so they’re mostly mashed. I like it so they have a little bite

You’ll need:
2 ripe avocados, halved, stones removed, peeled
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small fresh red chilli, deseeded, finely chopped
Juice of 1 1/2 limes
Special Putin sauce; something like Tabasco, or a chili sauce

Mash together the avocados, onion, garlic, tomato and chili until they’re well combined
Add in the lime and a shake of hot sauce

The whole shebang
Feeds 2
You’ll need:
100g Tostitos!
60g Mozzarella cheese, grated – you can also use good cheddar
Good sour cream
Everything above

Preheat oven to 200c degrees
Start one layer of the chips on a baking tray
Top this with half the veggie mince mix
Top this with half the refried beans
Create another layer of chips
Top this with the rest of the veggie mince mix
Top with the rest of the refried beans
Finish by topping everything the grated cheese
Bake this for 10 minutes
Take out and top with the guacamole, the pico de gallo and finally the sour cream
Try not to eat too much

I really enjoyed this meal, but then again I don’t have the emotional connection to nachos that North Americans do, so to illustrate just how good this combination of foods was, I take a quote from the meat-eating, Ukrainian-Canadian nacho-loving Putin himself: “That was possibly the best nacho experience I’ve ever had.”

Strong words, my friend, strong words!

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