Monday, August 25, 2014

Taco Salad with Cauliflower Chorizo and a Spicy Jalapeno Cilantro Dressing

It's August and summer is simultaneously in full swing and on it's way out.  Green leaves are beginning to change and the sweet scent of autumn has drifted into the air.  But summer isn't over yet! This past weekend I spent a lot of time outside enjoying the sunshine and beach while the glorious weather holds out. It's Washington so rainy days/weeks in summer are totally normal. We have a saying here that if the sun is out stop what you are doing and go outside! Well, the sun was out all weekend and so was I! Fall and winter in the Pacific Northwest mean lots of cloudy days drizzly, wet weather.  When you know that long winter is lingering up ahead, it's imperative to luxuriate in the wonderful summer season.  Luckily, I think I've been doing a pretty good job of it. If you follow me on Instagram (@venturingvegan) then you've got a pretty good idea of what I've been up to. If not, here's a glimpse of my August... Typical life by the Salish sea... boats, bonfires, beach and lots of swimming!
Spending time doing activities in the sun can really work up an appetite but in the heat and my bikini, I don't want something that is too heavy or that will load me down with digestion. Salad is the perfect summer meal because it is fresh, colorful, and can be very filling without being too heavy.  Plus, it's perfect for adding in lots of raw veggies and good fiber!
Since going gluten free at the beginning of the year, I've become quite the adventurer in the kitchen.  Going from vegetarian to vegan had a bit of learning curve cutting out dairy and eggs but there is wheat is everything! Once I went gluten free that meant that most vegan meat substitutes were off limits. The soy chorizo that I once loved contains wheat gluten (hello upset tummy and bloat) so I decided to experiment in new and unprocessed ways. Since I already made a Raw Sunflower Chorizo salad, I thought a cooked chorizo salad would be nice. Having recently spent the weekend with a dear friend of mine, who happens to be a chef, I found myself falling in love with cauliflower. He made the most amazing grilled cauliflower dish with corn and tomatoes. With this heart healthy cruciferous on the mind, I thought why not?! Turns out, this incredibly healthy superfood is also incredibly versatile!  Yay to cruciferous veggies!!  Let's get started!

Cauliflower Chorizo Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower, cored, broken into florets
1/2 - 2/3 cup jarred tomato sauce
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded, minced
3 cloves garlic, crushed, minced
4 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Cauliflower Chorizo Method:
Into a food processor fitted with the "S-type" blade, add the cauliflower florets. Then pulse until the florets are broken down into small pieces.  It should look something like this:
Now, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and jalapeno and cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the onion turns translucent.  To the onions and jalapeno, add the cauliflower and spices.  Stir well.  Then add the garlic and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Stir occasionally taking care not to let the garlic burn.  The kitchen should start smelling pretty incredible right about now!  Once the spices and cauliflower have cooked it's time to add the tomato sauce.  Pour it into the pan and stir well making sure everything is coated in sauce.  Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender and the juices from the sauce have been absorbed.  This is cauliflower chorizo!! Give it a taste to see if it needs additional spice but it should be spot on and look something like this:
Now you can make your salads.
Taco Salad Ingredients: (serves 4)
6 cups romaine, torn into bite-sized pieces
3/4 cup corn (I used frozen corn that I thawed but grilled corn would be divine)
2 avocados, pitted, diced
3/4 cup black beans
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
cilantro to garnish, optional
Daiya Shredded Cheddar Cheese to Garnish, optional
A few tortilla chips on the side, optional
Spicy Jalapeno Cilantro Dressing Ingredients:
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2-3 Tbsp. evoo
1 garlic clove
1 lime, juiced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded, diced
2-3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of cumin (around 1/8 tsp.)
Spicy Jalapeno Cilantro Dressing Method:
Add all ingredients to a blender and process until creamy and smooth.
To plate:
Create a bed of romaine lettuce as the foundation. Then add the cauliflower chorizo in the center as the focal point. Add the corn, tomato, beans, and avocado around the chorizo. Garnish with shredded vegan cheese and cilantro. Add the dressing and enjoy!
Thank you for stopping by Venturing Vegan and as always a big thank you to YOU for adventuring in vegan eats! Each plant powered bite makes a better and brighter future for you and the world we live in! Enjoy and always feel free to share!


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