Monday, November 14, 2016

Texas Hold 'Ems (BBQ Pecans and Ranch Salad Tacos) from Vegans Go Nuts!

Photo Credit: Susan and Ryan Asato of
Over the last few weeks I have been cooking up a storm. Nope, not at home. But for people interested in learning how to cook vegan! Nothing warms my heart more than teaching people how to cook without animal products and then hearing them afterwards telling me how much they loved the food. Its the best feeling in the world.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of sponsoring the Food Demo Stage at SoCal VegFest. Eleven vegan chefs from Southern California teaching thousands (You read that right...over a thousand people attended these demos over the weekend!) of vegans, vegetarians, and open minded omnivores the art of plant-based and vegan cooking. People from all walks of life attended and taught. We had chefs teaching all spectrums of animal-free cooking. From the oil-free crowd, to the superfood crowd, to the super fancy schmancy crowd, to the easy home cooking crowd. It was glorious.

My demo was last (not because I am full of myself, but because I had to make sure all of the other chefs were taken care of before I could worry about myself. And I expected a very small crowd at the end of the day on day two of the festival. I was sure that people would be tired and head home by then. But I was wrong! I had a full house! There was even a couple who drove all the way down from Bakersfield (!!!) to attend my demo. I almost broke down in tears. So, thank you to all of those who came out. I had a blast. And I apologize for looking a mess. It was a long weekend, and I was all but too tuckered out to worry about whether or not my hair and make-up looked okay before I took the stage. Lol.

Yesterday, I taught a similar class to a smaller group at the California Vegetarian Food Festival. About 40 to 50 attendees. But only 3 or 4 people raised their hands when I asked how many people in attendance were already vegan. I live for these crowds. The non-vegan crowds. The people who are seriously considering making a compassionate lifestyle change. After class was over I had many people come up to me to tell me how much they liked the food and how much they enjoyed my class. Many of them telling me how easy I made it look. I had to kindly explain that what I did in front of them WAS easy. I just did it in front of them with basic home cook equipment, using fairly "normal" ingredients. This way of cooking can be done by ANYONE. Just follow (even if loosely) the recipe.

I ran out of hand outs and promised to post this for those who attended. Sorry for the delay to the folks who attended October 30. Below you will find a few recipes. The BBQ Pecans, the Almond Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, The Chopped Salad, and for those who attended SoCal VegFest, the Spicy Peppercorn Ranch Coleslaw using my easy tofu mayo technique. The Texas Hold 'Ems recipe is straight from the pages of Vegans Go Nuts! by me and Celine Steen. Please feel free to share this recipe, just make sure to give credit (and linkbacks) to myself and Celine when you do.

If there is one thing Texas is known for, it's BBQ. And tacos. But Texas is also known for it's pecans! You don't always need a "meat" substitute. Sometimes it's fun to enjoy things for what they these pecans.

Smothered and simmered in a sassy barbecue sauce then stuffed into a hand-hold. Think pita, wrapped up in a tortilla, piled into a French roll, or, of course, as tacos! These pecans work perfectly along with the tangy almond buttermilk ranch chopped salad.

As written this recipe makes a bunch. But it holds well in the fridge, and if you make a big batch of the pecans, you can definitely use them in all sorts of ways in addition to the ways mentioned above. Add them to a salad, use them in a bowl with brown rice and kale, mix them into beans and rice, put 'em on top of tortilla chips with some queso for bbq nachos, or simply feel free to cut the recipe in half.

BBQ Pecans
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 cup (160 g) diced red onion
2 tablespoons (30 g) minced garlic
1 1/2 cups (366 g) tomato sauce
1 cup (235 ml) pineapple juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) sriracha sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons (44 g) molasses
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
4 cups (396 g) pecans, soaked and drained*
salt and pepper to taste
*the recipe will work out just fine if you don't soak your pecans, but soaking them makes them even chewier

Add olive oil to the bottom of a pan and heat over medium heat.
Add diced onions and sauté until fragrant and translucent, and edges are browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add garlic and continue to sauté 2 to 3 more minutes.
Add in remaining ingredients except pecans, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer, add in pecans, stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes, returning to stir halfway through.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

YIELD: 5 ½ cups (8 servings)

Almond Buttermilk Ranch
This ranch is tangy and packs the perfect punch of flavor to pair with the sassy bbq pecans. If you like things a bit spicy, try adding a bit of sriracha, or any of your favorite hot sauces to the blend.

3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) mild flavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15 g) dijon mustard
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried dill, or 1 tablespoon (4 g) fresh
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

Add almond milk, lemon juice, and vinegar to your blender (If you have an immersion blender this works perfectly here) and let sit for a few minutes. It will curdle and become like buttermilk.

Add in remaining ingredients and blend until combined and thickened.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

YIELD: 1 ½ cups

Chopped Salad
I like the way this chopped salad works with this recipe because you get the cool tangy dressing and the crunch of the raw onions and crisp romaine lettuce that just plays so nicely with those chewy, sassy, and just a tad spicy BBQ Pecans.

1 pound (454 g) romaine lettuce, chopped into small pieces*
1 medium red onion (about 6 ounces, or 170 g) peeled and finely diced
1 bunch (2 ounces, or 56 g) cilantro, chopped
1 recipe Almond Buttermilk Ranch
*This recipe also works really well with cabbage as a coleslaw (as shown in the photo), simply sub out the same amount of lettuce with a shredded coleslaw mix.

In a large mixing bowl toss together romaine or coleslaw mix, onion, and cilantro.
Toss with dressing. If preparing in advance, do not toss with dressing until ready to serve if using Romaine. If using coleslaw mix feel free to mix it ahead of time as coleslaw always tastes better once the dressing has softened the cabbage just a bit.

Assemble Your Tacos
Nothing is sadder than taking a bite of what looks like an awesome taco, only to find out no one bothered to cook the tortilla. Listen up! Corn tortillas are only par-baked when they are packaged. They still need to be grilled or toasted before eating. So…don’t forget to cook those tortillas!

Corn Tortillas, toasted or grilled
Almond Buttermilk Ranch Chopped Salad
BBQ Pecans
Wedge of Lime
Hot sauce, optional

Layer on chopped salad then top with BBQ Pecans.
Serve with a wedge of lime and add hot sauce if desired. Enjoy!

Easy Tofu Mayo and Spicy Peppercorn Ranch Coleslaw
This technique for whipping up a delicious thick and creamy mayo is quick and easy and uses ingredients readily available at most grocery stores. This mayo can be used as a base for many different dressings by simple adding in other spices and flavorings.

1 package (12 ounces) soft silken tofu
3/4 (180 ml) mild flavored vegetable oil
2 tablespoons (30 ml) rice vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon (5 to 15 ml) agave, optional (The more you use, the more it will taste like Miracle Whip, lol)

Add all ingredients into the cup of your immersion blender and whip until thick, creamy and silky smooth. That's it! So easy. Soooo good.

To turn it into the Spicy Peppercorn Ranch Dressing add in the following to the mix before blending:
1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 ml) sriracha, or your favorite hot sauce, to taste1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper. Then stir in 1 teaspoon dried dill (or one tablespoon fresh)

Use this dressing in place of the Almond Buttermilk Ranch posted above and use the cabbage method instead of the lettuce.

Enjoy Your Food!

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2012 Copyright/Permissions/Disclaimers

All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, and remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni