"Red beans and rice-ly yours." -- Louis Armstrong
After years of eating primarily plant-based, I can safely confess that rice & beans is pretty much the ultimate vegan comfort food. This food combination provides so much nutrition for so little cost. The combination is full of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients. Some estimate that a serving of rice and beans can be as cheap at 10 cents. You can't beat that for nutritional value.
The trick is that the combination is also full of complex carbohydrates. Some interesting research has come out in the British Medical Journal linking an increase in white rice consumption with an increase in Type 2 diabetes. Similarly a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increasing the beans in the beans to rice ratio may decrease the risk of some forms of lower risk of metabolic dysfunction.
So of course, I made some improvements on the "rice and beans" in this recipe. The "rice" is actually riced cauliflower for an extra hidden serving of veggies. Plus, I added in my super, top secret "quinoa taco meat" for some extra crunchy texture, as well as some extra fiber, complete protein, and other nutrients.
Then topped it with vegan cheese and my special vegan sour cream recipe. And.... Oh. My. Goodness. It will leave everyone asking for more and scraping the bowl.
Eating healthy doesn't have to be boring and it sure as heck doesn't have to be a sacrifice. It is possible to make delicious comfort food that is healthy too. Make sure to work with your doctor and other healthcare providers about a diet plan that is best for you!
And oh yes, I have finally found an opportunity to quote Molly Ringwald....
I like to say, jazz music is kind of like a musical equivalent of comfort food. You know, it's always what I go back to when I just want to feel sort of grounded.
-- Molly Ringwald
The Best Vegan Taco Dip Recipe
prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 60 minutes
Makes: 12-16 servings
4c cooked beans (you can make this recipe more or less complex by using different beans)
3T fortified nutritional yeast
1/4c Bragg's Liquid Aminos
3T vegan parmassean or other umami-flavored vegan cheese like Vromgae's Veganzola
Quinoa "Taco Meat":
2c cooked quinoa (ideally cooked with broth or one bag of Art of Broth)
2T nutritional yeast
2t chili powder
1T olive oil
Spicy Cauliflower "Rice":
2c "riced" cauliflower
2T nutritional yeast
1/2c mild/medium salsa
3/4t garlic powder
1/2t onion powder
Pinch of salt
1T avocado (or olive) oil
1/2c chopped fresh cilantro
Cashew "Sour Cream":
2c raw cashews (soaked in distilled water overnight or at least 2 hours)
3T lemon juice
1t apple cider vinegar
2T almond or other non-dairy milk (or more to desired consistency)
Pinch of salt
1c vegan cheddar cheese
1/2c chopped cilantro
Salad greens or sprouts
Freshly cut radishes
STEP 1: If cooking dried beans, make sure to wash well and soak overnight or use the quick soak method. Soak the raw cashews in a covered glass bowl with filtered water for at least 2 hours, ideally over night.
Preheat oven to 400F.
STEP 2: Prepare beans:
Cook on stovetop or rinse canned beans. Heat beans over low heat until warmed. Leave covered until read to assemble the Taco Dip.
STEP 3: Prepare the Quinoa Taco Meat
Combine the cooked quinoa with salsa, nutritional yeast, cumin, chili powder, and oil. Toss well to cover quinoa.
Place in a thin layer on a cookie sheet lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper
Place in oven an cook for 45 minutes or until crispy. Stir every 15 minutes.
STEP 4: Prepare the Spicy Cauliflower Rice
Place the cauliflower "rice" in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
Add nutritional yeast, salsa, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, oil, and cilantro. Stir well. Cover and remove from heat.
Allow to sit covered without heat for 5-10 minutes.
STEP 5: Prepare the Cashew Sour Cream:
Combine cashews, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, milk, and pinch of salt in a high power food processor.
Process until a consistency similar to ricotta cheese, adding more milk as necessary.
STEP 6: Build the dip:
Layer 1 -- a quarter of the beans with nutritional yeast and salsa.
Layer 2 -- Quinoa "Taco Meat"
Layer 3 -- another quarter of beans with Liquid Aminos
Layer 4 -- Spicy Cauliflower Rice
Layer 5 -- another quarter of the beans with vegan parmassan or other umami-flavored cheese
Layer 6 -- vegan cheddar cheese
Layer 7 -- last quarter of beans
Layer 8: remaining salsa
Layer 9: sliced avocados
Layer 10: cashew sour cream
And oh my goodness... hope you, your family, and friends talk about this dip for weeks!