My favourite taco salad with spicy lentils and easy vegan cheese sauce

Taco Salad with Spicy Lentils and Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce | A Dash of Compassion

Earlier this year, I made a pretty bold statement about how much I despise new year resolutions. Instead, I shared with you a number of items on my most recent list of ongoing goals (that have nothing at all to do with losing weight or giving up a bad habit). Actually, most things on that list focused on an upcoming major home renovation: the kitchen. In the last few months we’ve had some progress on the planning front—we’ve found what seems to be a decent design-build firm to take on the project, bought a new range (my hubby found an amazing deal on a Wolf; lucky me!), decided on a layout and general design, and had an engineer in to assess the wall we’re planning on removing.

All exciting stuff, sure, but I must say: I’m scared to death, and a little (no, A LOT) nervous about the idea of giving up my kitchen for who-knows-how-long.

Taco Salad with Spicy Lentils and Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce | A Dash of Compassion

For someone who is so used to DIYing in the kitchen and making the majority of my meals at home and from scratch, I can’t stand the thought of eating out as much as we will need to because we won’t have the appliances or capacity to do otherwise. I’m sure most people would love the thought of having someone else make their meals for months, but not me. I have this thing where I want to know exactly what’s in my food and who’s been touching it.

So what’s a girl to do? Make as many of my favourite meals as I can before the dreaded demo day is here.

Taco Salad with Spicy Lentils and Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce | A Dash of Compassion

Enter this fabulous vegan taco salad I’ve been obsessed with for the last couple of months, thanks to my discovery of the fresh “cheese” sauce from Super Fresh by Jennifer Houston and Ruth Tal, partners of the ever-popular Fresh Restaurants here in Toronto. I first used the sauce to make their green poutine recipe (which is the bomb!) but I knew that sauce was destined for even greater things.

Taco Salad with Spicy Lentils and Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce | A Dash of Compassion

Taco salad is my go-to summer salad because salad equals summer and tortilla chips equal PARRR-TAY. Do you see what I’m getting at? We’re talking summer party on a plate here, kids. Are you ready?

A couple of notes:

  • If you’re into prepping ahead like I am, you can make the sauce and the lentils ahead and enjoy taco salads all week long! The sauce can be reheated in a small saucepan over low heat; the lentils can be eaten cold.
  • For any leftover cheese sauce, there are so many options: poutine, mac and cheese, drizzle over steamed veggies, layered nacho dip, you name it!
  • Tortilla chips are a must on this salad because they give an added crunch that you really can’t get elsewhere. My all-time favourite brand is Que Paso, especially their Ancient Grains Tortilla Chips. I’ve also been known to crumble Mary’s crackers on top when I don’t have any chips in the house.
  • I highly recommend buying Super Fresh if you don’t live locally to enjoy the restaurant food (even if you do, buy the book anyway).

Print Print

Taco salad with spiced lentils and vegan cheese sauce

Yield: Serves 2 (with leftover cheese sauce!)

Ingredients:

For the cheese sauce:

  • 2 cups peeled and chopped potatoes
  • 3/4 cup peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

For the lentils:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can lentils
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) sea salt

For the salad:

  • 1 just-ripe avocado, peel and pit removed
  • squeeze of lime juice
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup black olive slices
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • Tortilla chips, for topping
  • Your favourite salsa, for topping

Directions:

For the cheese sauce:

  1. In a saucepan full of boiling water, cook potatoes and carrots until very soft, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. Combine cooked potatoes and carrots, nutritional yeast, oil, water, lemon juice, and salt in a container and, using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. If needed, add more water to get a pourable consistency, 1 tablespoon at a time. [Alternatively, use a regular blender.] Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, this sauce will last up to 1 week.

For the lentils:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to coat the lentils with the spices.

To assemble the salad:

  1. Chop the avocado into bite-size pieces. Squeeze lime juice over top along with a generous sprinkle of sea salt.
  2. Divide the romaine into two salad bowls. Spoon the prepared lentils over top, along with the grape tomatoes, olives, green onions, and avocado. Top with tortilla chips and salsa, and a generous drizzle of cheese sauce. Enjoy!

Cheese sauce from Super Fresh: Super Natural, Super Vibrant Vegan Recipes Copyright @ Fresh by Juice for Life, Ltd., 2015. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.

      

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4 Responses to “My favourite taco salad with spicy lentils and easy vegan cheese sauce”

  1. Amey Mathews — June 4, 2016 @ 4:52 pm

    Gosh, this sounds amazing! I already bookmarked it. That cheese sauce sounds super delicious, I look forward to trying it. I totally hear you on the kitchen remodel thing. Our kitchen is a semi-lovable little weirdo, and any attempt to re-do it would be such a huge can of worms that I’ve just learned to accept it as is. I wish you courage in your adventure!

    • Nicole — June 6, 2016 @ 9:55 am

      Thanks, Amey! I thought about living with the kitchen the way it is now but the cupboards are starting to fall apart so I figured it’s time! My house is really old so it’ll likely be a big can of worms too but I’m just going to dive in and hope for the best. Thanks for your well wishes! :)

  2. Cindy Franklin — August 14, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

    The cheese sauce sounds amazing! Is there something I could substitute for the potatoes? Food allergy unfortunately :( Maybe cauliflower? Or would that give it an unusual flavor? An new to cooking so am trying to learn my way around the kitchen and lots of food allergies at the same time. Thanks!

    • Nicole — August 16, 2017 @ 10:23 am

      Hi Cindy. Unfortunately I’m not sure you can substitute for the potatoes, as the starch in the potatoes is what gives it that thick, creamy texture. Cauliflower might work but I don’t think it would taste very good. Sorry!

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