Black Bean Taco Salad with Cheesy Poblano Pepper Dressing

MF1

I love black beans.  A lot.  One of my favorite ways to cook them is what I call “taco style.”  And here’s a recipe!  (Bonus: for my “other” colors week, this recipe includes black beans, brown rice, and lovely purple-hued red onions!)

Taco Salad 003

Crunchy fresh veggies, creamy avocado, spicy beans, and a warm cheesy topping–so delicious and pretty healthy too!  I had trouble deciding if the yellow stuff should be called a sauce or a dressing.  I wanted to say “dressing” because it was going on a salad, but in my head I was going for something kind of like nacho cheese sauce.  Whatever it is, it works!

Black Bean Taco Salad with Cheesy Poblano Pepper Dressing
Vegan and gluten-free as written (just check the prepared ingredients carefully)
(This recipe has a hearty omnivore seal of approval from H.)

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

For the beans:
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
scant 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
(optional) 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
(or skip the seasonings and add 1/2 packet of taco seasoning mix)
(OR add whatever seasonings you like!)

For the Dressing/Sauce (makes 1 cup):
1 small poblano pepper, cut in half, seeds and membranes removed
1 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
1 tbsp. tahini
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. yellow mustard, like Heinz (use less if you don’t love mustard because the flavor comes through kinda strong)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric (mainly for color, but I like the flavor too)
1/2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 tsp. sriracha (or more!)
(optional) 1 1/2 tbsp. nutritional yeast (if you don’t like nooch then leave it out)

For Serving:
Head of romaine, washed and chopped
(optional) Red onion slices
(optional) Avocado slices
(optional) Cooked brown rice
(optional) Tortilla chips

To Make:
The Pepper: Preheat the oven to 425.  Brush both sides of each poblano half lightly with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Roast for 10 minutes, until skin looks blistery (P.S. – it smells SO GOOD when it’s roasting!).  Remove from oven, allow to cool, then peel off the skin and chop the peppers very finely.

The Beans: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm olive oil then saute garlic for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant and softened.  Add black beans, stir a few times, then add tomatoes.  Bring mixture to a gentle simmer, then lower the heat, stir in the spices, cover, and let it marinate for about 15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, then turn off heat, remove cover, and let it sit some more to cool down a bit.

The Dressing/Sauce: Combine all ingredients except sriracha in another medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Heat gently until it starts to thicken and a few bubbles appear, stirring fairly frequently and watching it carefully so that it doesn’t burn.  Once the mixture begins to bubble, remove from heat and cover.  Let it sit for 5 minutes, then uncover and stir in the sriracha.  Allow it to cool slightly.

To Assemble:
Not that you need instructions on this, but here’s how I did mine:

1) Lettuce, topped with red onion slices and avocado (this avocado was in the top 5 best I’ve ever eaten, btw):
Taco Salad 001

2) Brown rice, topped with beans:
Taco Salad 002
NOTE: my rice was pre-cooked and cold from sitting in the fridge, so here I used it sort of as a buffer to keep the warm beans from ruining my raw veggies

3) Finally, drizzled with the dressing/sauce:
Taco Salad 005

I was thrilled with how this salad turned out.  As I mentioned in the ingredients list, the sauce on its own has a strong mustard flavor, and the flavor of the roasted poblanos is fairly subtle by contrast.  But once you mix it all up into your salad it just tastes GOOD.

H was also super-happy with his dinner and I’m so glad that his little omnivore taste buds have embraced vegan cheesy sauces to such a degree, because it’s opening up a lot more options for me in terms of making dinners we can both enjoy without me having to make omni adjustments.   His palate has definitely adapted to the taste of nooch too, because not only did he gobble this meal, but he loved the carrot and squash risotto I made on Saturday and has been reheating it for lunch every day at work since.

By the way, I’m planning on pouring the leftover sauce over a tofu scramble.  Yup.

What do you think–is it a dressing or a sauce?

Also, if you have a great vegan cheese sauce recipe, please share it in the comments!

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