Menu of the Week: Mexican Goes Vegan With BBQ Seitan Tostadas

Barbecued Seitan Tostadas with black beans, nopales, guacamole, tofu sour cream, and pickled red onions

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I don’t know about you, but I never tire of eating tacos, tostadas, burritos, and other similar Mexican-inspired foods. They’re so amenable to healthy interpretation, there’s no need to give them up, even if you’re following a strict eating regime. I doubt you’d find one quite like this in Mexico, but here is one gringo’s interpretation of a tostada.  Beginning from the ground up: we started with quality yellow corn tortillas.  Instead of frying them, we brushed them lightly with oil, and toasted them in a 400º F oven about 15 minutes. Then a thin layer of finely shredded cabbage. After that a layer of black beans which I seasoned with cumin, onions, umeboshi vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, fresh cilantro and a little Annie’s Smoky Maple Barbecue Sauce (this is wonderfully tasty and I like that it’s sweetened with brown rice syrup and maple syrup rather than cheaper sweeteners). Then the BBQ seitan. I made the seitan myself and finished it by tossing it with sliced onions, olive oil, mirin, soy sauce and more of Annie’s BBQ Sauce and roasting it in a 400º F oven for 45 minutes, finally it was cut into thin slices. Mixed in with the seitan were diced pieces of nopale, which I sautéed with garlic in a little olive oil. Nopales are a prickly cactus which you can find in Mexican markets, usually with the prickles already removed (an interesting addition, but not absolutely necessary). Finally, there were three toppings: guacamole (diced up avocados with lime juice, salt and Veganaise), tofu sour cream (soft tofu blended with Veganaise, umeboshi vinegar and a little olive oil) and pickled red onions (made in 24 hours–marinated in rice vinegar, brown rice syrup, garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper).

The first course for this menu was soup: Fresh Corn and Sweet Potato Posole.  Posole is hominy corn, and is traditionally used in soups in northern Mexico and the American Southwest. Buy it in cans in Mexican markets.  First thing we did in making this soup was to cut the corn kernels off the cob, and then we simmered the cobs in water, making a delicious, mild corn stock. We finished the soup, which also contained onions and carrots, with a generous quantity of white miso and garnished it with cilantro.

The main coarse tostadas were complimented with achiote brown rice, braised vegetables and a salad.  Anchiote, also known as annato, is typically used for coloring in Mexico.  It doesn’t add much flavor, but does lend a pleasing red color.  Mix in one-half teaspoon of ground anchiote right at the start, and cook your rice as usual.

For the Braised Vegetable dish:  I first blanched cauliflower, sunburst squash and carrots. Then I braised chayote squash, first sautéing it with garlic in olive oil, adding julienned sun dried tomatoes, turmeric, salt and pepper. Then I added soup stock, seasoning the broth with soy sauce and mirin.  When the Chayote were tender, I thickened the broth with corn starch to make a light sauce.  The chayote and sauce were then mixed with the other vegetables.

For the Salad:  We used an organic spring mix to which we added diced fresh mangoes, julienned pieces of jicama and sliced cucumber. The dressing consisted of apple juice, fresh mango, lime juice, rice vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, a little bit of hot sauce, salt and pepper, all whizzed in a blender.

The recipe for the dessert, Sweet Corn-Polenta Cake, is here.

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