Easy vegan summer tostadas

Summer is here all right. In the furniture shipment for the house, a leather lounge was included. Of course, in the excitement to complete the puzzle of furnishing a unique living and lounge situation, I forgot that skin sticks to leather on 30 degree (Celsius) days. But hey, at least it looks good.

We’re up to the part of the year which I call the worst. Driving anywhere is not by any means pleasant and you can forget trying to get a car park at a shopping centre – unless you’re prepared to do three laps of the lot. Work is a nightmare. We close for two weeks and I’ll be taking an extra week off in January. Can’t wait. That’s if I make it to the 22nd. I need to do about six weeks’ worth of work in three. Thankfully a colleague has spared my ears the trauma of listing to the Christmas playlist she has enjoyed playing in the office for the last two Christmas seasons.

The one thing I like about this time of year? Summer fruit. There are mangoes everywhere, and I’ve been wanting to make these easy tostadas for the longest time. There’s no cooking time involved – only a short amount of prep-time. That’s what you want in summer.

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Easy vegan summer tostadas
Serves 3

4 limes, juiced
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp orange juice
1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt
1 mango, finely diced
200g grape tomatoes, quartered
2 green spring onions, finely sliced
½ red onion, finely diced
1 red capsicum, finely diced
1 avocado, halved and sliced
Tostadas (crispy tortilla chips), as many as you want to eat

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add lime and orange juice, coriander, olive oil and salt. Stir to combine and adjust flavourings to your preference.

Add mango, tomatoes, onions, and capsicum and mix to ensure ingredients are coated well. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Lay a couple of tostadas on a plate and top with marinated mixture. Add a slice of avocado and enjoy!

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Vegan pulled ‘pork’ nachos

In my former life (the one where I ate meat), I never ate real pulled pork. I wasn’t big on the meat overall so when I saw people using jackfruit to replicate pulled pork, it took me a while to jump on the bandwagon. A whole year in fact. I wondered how I could truly veganise it if I didn’t know what the original was like.

I managed to come across some tinned jackfruit in an Asian supermarket and thought I’d give it a go, especially since my local supermarket had started stocking vegan Worcestershire sauce. With a bottle of that and some jackfruit in tow, I was ready.

I came across this fantastic hand-crafted Mexican spice mix from New Zealand a few years ago and have been addicted to it ever since. I stockpile packets of it because nothing I’ve come across comes close, and I have not been able to replicate it from a DIY spice mix. It definitely helps give the flavour a lot more dimension.

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Vegan pulled ‘pork’ nachos
Serves 4

For the pulled ‘pork’ jackfruit
1 can jackfruit, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Tio Pablo Mayan Gold Mexican spice mix
1/4 cup water

Use a potato masher to mash jackfruit into a bowl then add rest of ingredients and mix to combine.

Add ingredients to a saucepan over a medium heat. Cook for approx. 10 minutes until liquid reduces and jackfruit is soft.

For the beans
1 red onion, finely chopped
5 tbsp Tio Pablo Mayan Gold Mexican spice mix
6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tin black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
White corn chips, to serve
Avocado, to serve
Lime, to serve

Heat onions with some coconut oil over a medium heat. Turn heat to low and cook onions until they start to caramelise.

Add the spice mix and tomatoes and stir to combine before adding the vegetable stock and beans.

Cook until liquid reduces and tomatoes soften, about 20 minutes.

To assemble, lay corn chips around the edges of a bowl. Add beans then pulled jackfruit. Top with avocado and a drizzle of lime juice.

The best vegan tacos

I’ve come to the conclusion that careers change you, in the same way that life events change you. Working in an industry based on communication has changed me – for better in many respects, but also for worse in some ways.

I’ve always been a homebody. And, I’ve always been an introvert with a touch of awkward. When you’re ‘green’ in my industry, you learn pretty quickly that being like this isn’t going to cut it if you want to do well and be respected for what you do. To that end, my life feels like a balancing act featuring the introverted and extroverted parts of myself. Most of the time there isn’t much balance.

These tacos were a godsend when I was feeling particularly unbalanced recently. I have been dreaming about getting a good ‘meatiness’ for my tacos before now. Mexican-spiced scrambled tofu wasn’t going to cut it and nor was nut meat, especially after recently discovering I have a mild walnut allergy (just another food allergy/intolerance for the already long list). The secret? A little bit of tofu, a little bit of tempeh, and some baked kidney beans.

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The best vegan tacos
Makes 10-12

1 can kidney beans, drained and baked at 200 degrees C for 15 minutes
150g organic non-GMO tofu
75g organic tempeh
1/2 brown onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Pinch of ground black pepper
Fresh tomato, red onion and lime salsa, to serve
Avocado or guac, to serve
Sriracha, to serve

Blitz tofu and tempeh in a food processor a couple of times. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a heavy-based pan. Add onion and saute until starting to caramelise. Add the garlic and cook on a medium heat for one minute before adding the spices. Once the spices are fragrant, add tahini, soy sauce and vinegar, followed by tofu and tempeh, baked kidney beans, and a pinch of pepper. Cook until liquid is soaked up and all ingredients are cooked through.

Spoon mix into warmed taco shells topped with fresh tomato, red onion and lime salsa, avocado slices and a touch of sriracha.

Gluten-free vegan basics | Best-ever guacamole and hummus

Know anyone who doesn’t like guacamole? Didn’t think so. What about hummus? Yep, didn’t think so either. They are the king and queen of dip land.

Both being extremely fast and easy to make, it’s no wonder people buy pre-made tubs from the shops. But, last week I needed avocado for Mexican night and, with no ripe avocados at home, I had no choice but to look at alternatives, and that meant a visit to the dip section of my local supermarket. I was in despair, almost all of the options contained cream cheese or yoghurt. The whole point of guacamole is the fact that it is an avocado-based dip, not a dairy-based dip. In fact, it shouldn’t even contain dairy. Anyway, I digress. Did you know the easiest way to make guac is on a flat plate and mixed with a fork? Neither did I until recently and let me tell you, it levelled-up my guac game. Not too lumpy, and not too smooth. The guac was just right.

Now, are you ready to find out the secret to great hummus? I’m a big fan of sumac and am constantly thinking of all the things I can do with it. One day I sprinkled it on top of hummus and from then on, we all lived happily ever after.

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Guacamole

2 avocadoes
6 baby tomatoes
1 lime, juiced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
Pinch of salt

Add all the ingredients to a large flat plate and mash it together with a fork until combined. Adjust ingredients to taste, otherwise refrigerate until ready to eat.

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Hummus

2 cans chickpeas, drained
1/3 C olive oil
1 1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp tahini
Pinch of garlic powder
Pinch of salt
Sumac and olive oil, to serve

Blend all ingredients on high until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl one or two times.

Adjust ingredients to taste blend for a few seconds longer if necessary and plate. Drizzle with olive oil and pinch of sumac.