Vegan Tacos with Guacamole and Corn Relish

Okay, confession time: I did not intend for these tacos to be vegan. I forgot cheese at the grocery store, and like Tim Gunn, not to mention every chef, I had to make it work.  Despite this lapse in cognitive function (I mean, me of all people, forgetting cheese!) the flavors came together quite nicely.

Tacos open up a world of possibilities. You can make them at any time of year, with whatever veggies are in season. I’ve been wanting to do veggie tacos for a while, and love using mushrooms as a meat substitute.  I chose chanterelles and crimini mushrooms, but you really could use any variety. Maddie has inspired me to work on texture combinations, and I have to say, the sauted mushrooms, crunchy corn, and creamy guacamole made for a winning mixture.

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Corn Relish:                                    

2 ears of corn roasted, kernels cut off from core

1 red onion, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

3 medium sized heirloom tomatoes, diced into bite sized pieces

2 cloves of garlic crushed

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

Guacamole:

3 ripe avocados

1/2 red onion

A handful of fresh parsley finely chopped

3 small gloves of garlic

Juice from 3 limes

1 tsp agave nectar

1/2-1 tsp green chili pepper, finely chopped

Tacos:

3 handfuls mushrooms of your choice

2 cloves of garlic, diced

6 corn tortillas

Arugula

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees.  Meanwhile, carmelize your onion by placing a tablespoon of oil into a saute pan, and cooking your onion pieces on low heat for 45-50 minutes, stirring frequently.  While your onions are cooking, cut your tomatoes and roast the two ears of corn until just tender (about 30-40 minutes depending on your oven). While you can combine the ingredients for the corn relish in any order, I prefer to let the tomatos and the garlic sit in the bowl together first before adding the other ingredients. Once your onions are tender and lightly golden brown, combine the remaining ingredients for the corn relish and set aside.

Mix the avocados, red onion, parsley, garlic, and lime juice in a medium sized bowl.  Add agave and the green pepper pieces. Taste and adjust flavors as needed. Set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium sized saute pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until they look moist. Add garlic and cook until mushrooms are just starting to brown on the edges. Meanwhile, heat the tortillas. Once the mushrooms are done and the tortillas heated, plate all componants as desired.

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Despite giving a bad name to cheese lovers everywhere by forgetting the “most important ingredient”, this vegan experiment turned out quite well and I look forward to trying other types of veggie tacos in the near future…and there WILL be cheese.

Meatless Monday: Vegan Lemon Cookies

While I do not traditionally put meat in my cookies (and really do not want to imagine a recipe that calls for it), I am very excited to share my first vegan dessert experiment.  

One of the culinary explorations I’ve enjoyed most this last year is finding healthier ways to make your favorite treats.  Maddie was my first introduction to this type of baking, the fact that her Zucchini Bread was the best I had ever had, and it had no butter or oil in it, amazed me.

After extensive research, the egg substitute I was most excited by was ground flax seed and water.  Given the many health benefits of flax seed, it seemed too good to be true that it would also create the desired texture of eggs.  My doubts were whisked away as I watched the coconut oil, sugar, and egg substitute mixture thicken.  In addition, flax seeds add a little of their own flavor, it almost tasted like I had added a pinch of nutmeg, what could be better?

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Vegan Lemon Cookies

  • 1.5 tps of baking soda
  • 1 cup white flour, 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup of Coconut Oil, just melted
  • 3/4 cup Cane Sugar
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • lemon zest from 1.5 lemons
  • 2 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 6 tablespoons water (or other liquid)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix the baking soda, flours, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  Combine the coconut oil, and sugar, beat fully until dissolved.  Add lemon juice and zest.  Then mix flax seeds with water and add the mixture into the other ingredients. Beat together until mixture begins to thicken. Add dry mixture into wet mixture a little at a time, until fully combined.

Place small spoonfuls of dough on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until just golden on top, approximately 10 minutes depending on oven.

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Given that I had never made vegan cookies before, and was taking a risk doing them without a recipe, I decided to just cook a few first batch, to double check the texture.  I ended up placing the cookie dough in the fridge for 15 minutes to cool it off and temporarily thicken it up a bit.  The final texture was perfect, lightly chewy but still moist.  When I make these again, I will make sure that the dough stays relatively cool.

The lemon flavor together with the flax seed was an unbeatable combination and they were the perfect balance between sweet but not too sweet.

All in all, my first vegan baking experiment was entirely successful (she says modestly), and I am excited to expand into trying out cakes, and other delectable favorites. Until next week, Happy Meatless Monday!