It's not often that you hear of Taco Bell as a healthy chef's guiding inspiration—a vegan chef, no less.
For Lauren Toyota, the blogger behind Hot for Food and the author of Vegan Comfort Classics, the famed fast-food eatery paved the way for a seriously drool-worthy recipe that epitomizes "better-for-you."
"I know how popular the nacho cheese and sour cream is from [my site] Hot for Food and I was looking for another epic way to serve those two saucy things in one recipe," Toyota explains. We think she found it.
Her take on loaded fries supreme is pretty, well, supreme if you're looking at cleaner ingredients. It includes baked "fries," non-dairy detours around the regular gooey goods, and a killer spice blend.
And it involves make-it-yourself, totally vegan versions of nacho "cheese," a brilliant one ingredient "sour cream," and even tofu "bacon."
It's essentially a plant-based, whole foods version of what you might have grabbed for a late-night snack in college.
Keep reading for the recipe for Toyota's loaded fries supreme.
Loaded fries supreme
For the tofu bacon crumbles
1/4 cup low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp liquid smoke
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 brick firm or extra-firm tofu (about 2 cups crumbled or sliced thin)
For the nacho cheese
1 cup peeled, cubed white potato (about 1 small potato)
1/2 cup peeled, diced carrot (about 1 carrot)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup non-dairy milk or water
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 pickled jalapeño slices or to taste, plus 3 Tbsp brine
1 Tbsp tomato paste
For the sour cream
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk or water
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
For the tofu bacon crumbles:
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Depending on the use for the tofu bacon, either crumble it into small pieces or thinly slice it along the short side.
3. Combine the tamari (or soy sauce), maple syrup, liquid smoke, and smoked paprika together in a bowl or wide dish with a whisk or fork. Marinate the tofu for 15 minutes.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and either spread the crumbles in an even layer or lay out the slices spaced slightly apart. The tofu crumbles will have absorbed most of the marinade. For the slices you can reserve any excess marinade to brush on halfway through the bake time.
5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping the tofu halfway through the bake time and brushing the slices on both sides with excess marinade. The tofu should be much darker when it’s done. It might not be crispy right out of the oven, but it will get firmer as it cools.
6. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, and use immediately for a recipe or consume within ten days.
For the nacho cheese:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the potato and carrot until fork-tender, six to eight minutes. Drain the vegetables and immediately place in a high-powdered blender. If you cook the potatoes too long, they will become starchy and your sauce will not be smooth.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and combine on high until smooth. Your sauce may be hot enough to serve immediately from the blender. If not, heat it in a saucepan for a few minutes until just bubbling and warm or reheat in a microwave.
3. When you reheat the sauce, a small amount of nondairy milk or water may be required to get a smooth consistency again.
For the sour cream:
1. Drain and rinse the cashews and place in a high-powered blender with the remaining ingredients. Combine on high until very smooth.
2. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving. The sour cream keeps for up to seven days in the fridge. Make and consume this as soon as possible for a fresh taste—this isn’t the best recipe to freeze and keep for longer storage.
For the fries:
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. To make the french fries, wash the potatoes and cut into approximately half-inch matchsticks, leaving the skin on. Place in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Cook until you can just pierce the surface with a fork, six to eight minutes. The potatoes shouldn’t be too tender or soft.
3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drain the water from the pot and toss the potatoes with the vegetable oil, paprika, salt, and pepper until evenly coated. Lay them out on the baking sheets spaced one-fourth inch apart; do not overcrowd.
4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, flipping the fries halfway through the bake time, until golden brown and crisp.
5. Split the fries among serving plates, layering them with nacho cheese and sour cream. Top with the bacon crumbles, tomatoes, and chives.
Reprinted with permission from Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics, copyright 2017 by Lauren Toyota. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photography copyright© 2017 Lauren Toyota
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