Thursday, August 9, 2012

Easy Entertaining: Plant-strong Vegan Taco Bar Party

Believe it or not, I started this blog posting almost a year ago. I never got around to finishing it up at the time, which, believe it or not, happens with a lot of my postings. But it's such a fun and easy entertaining idea, and I happen to enjoy it every time I prepare it, that I just couldn't let it go: Vegan Taco Bar Night!

Does it seem too pedestrian to invite guests over and serve them a meal of tacos? Not to me, and certainly not when kids are on the guest list. I confess, entertaining with a taco bar is not my original idea. I first enjoyed the beauty and simplicity of it at my friend Chris-Anna's house when I had one of those "now why didn't I think of that?" moments. 

So what is it that I love so much about this concept?

This meal pleases everyone: kids and adults, picky eaters and adventurous eaters, the health conscious and the not-so-health conscious.

For guests who want to eat a salad-great! Make a salad with all of these delicious toppings. For kids-fantastic! There's a ton of ways to make kid friendly food here. For you Hungry Jacks--go for the traditional taco in a shell or construct a Mexican pasta dish. This meal appeals to everyone.

And it's ever so easy to prepare.

The elements of a vegan taco meal are as follows. Choose to serve as many items as you want from each category.

The Main Event:

Doesn't look so glamorous, but these Lentils with Taco Seasoning are oh-so-delicious.

Lentils with Taco Seasoning
serves 4-6

print me!

1 1/4 cups brown or green lentils (8 ounces)
2 tablespoons ketchup (the no-sugar variety if possible)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or not)
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your spice tolerance)

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil . Once boiling, add lentils, cover, and reduce heat. Simmer covered for about 20 to 25 minutes, until most of the water has been absorbed.

Turn off the heat, then stir in the ketchup, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt (or not), black pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (or more, depending on your spice tolerance).

Here's another recipe for Lentil Tacos that looks delish!

Roasted Chickpeas with Taco Seasoning

2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 recipe taco seasoning, below

Preheat oven to 400F. Toss chickpeas with taco seasoning until evenly coated. Place chickpeas on a lined baking sheet sprayed lightly sprayed with cooking oil spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until crunchy. 

Taco Seasoning Blend

mix together the following:

1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
a pinch or two fine sea salt

The Carriers:
Taco shells-whole grain, baked versions are available now
shredded lettuce
blanched collard green leaf
soft tortillas, corn or 100% whole wheat
whole wheat pasta

The Mix and Match Toppers:
grilled vegetables (zucchini, mushroom and onion)
corn (fresh or frozen)
black beans or pinto beans
refried beans
cheddar cheese (Daiya non-dairy and regular for you non vegan guests)
sliced scallions
slice black olives
diced tomatoes
diced raw onion
crunched up baked tortilla chips
sliced banana peppers
artichoke hearts (water packed)

Dips, Dressings and Sauces:
The Healthy Librarian's Creamy Chipotle Ranch Dressing
Salsa Verde
Traditional Salsa
Pea and Avocado Guacamole

brown rice
Mexican Slaw
Tex Mex Quinoa with Cilantro, Lime and Apricots
Mexican Rice (this recipe looks good, just leave out the oil)

You see, I told you the kids had fun!

Have you made Vegan Tacos yet? Ever tried making a party out of it?

Am I missing any awesome ideas or recipes that we can add to this Vegan Taco line-up?
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