Taco Fiesta Potato Crisps

This is it dear readers, my first vegetarian dish.  Not just vegetables as a side, but a recipe intentional about replacing meat with a plant-based alternative.  Promise me you’ll only give glowing reports to Farmer Rob, as he is first and foremost a meat producing farmer and loves his beef!  But it’s time. Time for us all to enjoy more plant-based foods as we begin to understand the health benefits of including more vegetables, nuts and legumes in our diet.  But also time for us as a couple as we edge ever closer to sixty and need to adapt our eating habits for a slowing metabolism. Not that we’ll ever cut out meat, but I can certainly be more intentional about serving occasional meatless meals without skimping on flavor.  So if you’re ready to begin that journey, then this month’s recipe is an excellent place to start. Recently I hosted a baby shower for a vegetarian new mom, stretching me to try recipes beyond my usual favorites and this one surprised us all with its tastiness. It hits all the right notes – “meaty”, full of flavor and creamy, just like you’d expect Mexican inspired potato skins to be.  Try it at your Superbowl party, and I guarantee that even all those meat-loving men gathered around the TV will enjoy every bite!

This recipe is made up of 3 parts: the lentil walnut taco mix on top of a roasted potato slice, topped with cashew cream.

Ingredients

For the Lentil Taco Mix:

  • 1/2 cup chopped walnut pieces
  • 3/4 cup uncooked brown lentils (or 1 can lentils, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional if using canned lentils)
    EASY:  Substitute 2 Tbsp. Triple Smoke Tex Mex seasoning for oregano, cumin, chili powder and salt
  • 3 Tbsp salsa (or vegetable broth, or water)

For the Roasted Potato Slices:

  • 2 russet potatoes, unpeeled, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds- use a mandoline if you have one
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Cashew Sour Cream:

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
Method

For the Lentil Walnut Taco Mix:

If using dried lentils, rinse lentils then add to a medium sauce pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the walnuts. Toast for ~2 minutes, stirring often until walnuts are lightly browned and fragrant, taking care not to burn. Place the walnuts in a small bowl and set aside.

Add the oil to the same skillet along with the onion and spices. Cook for 5-6 minutes until onions are reduced and translucent but not browned. Add the cooked (or canned, drained and rinsed) lentils and walnut mixture along with the salsa or broth and cook another 2-3 minutes, gently mashing some of the lentils with the back of your spoon/spatula.  You can also use a potato masher to mash ingredients.

For the Roasted Potato Slices:

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place the potato slices on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Rub the potatoes to disperse the oil evenly. Place potatoes in an even layer, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Roast the potatoes for 30-35 minutes, flipping them once halfway through, until tender and lightly browned. Allow the potatoes to cool for 5 minutes before assembling.

For the Cashew Sour Cream:

In a bowl, combine the raw cashews and enough water to cover them and soak for 8 hours or overnight. For a quick-soak method, put the cashews in a bowl, pour boiling water over them until the cashews are covered, and soak for 2 hours.

Drain and rinse the cashews and transfer them to a blender. Add the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt and blend on high speed until very smooth.

 

Top each potato slice with 1 teaspoon of the cashew sour cream, followed by about 1 teaspoon each of the walnut lentil taco meat, salsa, and green onions, in that order. Garnish with pepper. Serve immediately, while still warm.