I grew up in the heartland and married a native Wisconsinite. Thus, cheese is part of my cultural heritage.
I have always had an odd relationship with cheese, though. As a child, I didn’t like it. I would only eat cheese that had been carefully disguised by or integrated with other ingredients. As an adult, I my tastes changed and I started to wonder if I could give up cheese if I should ever “go” vegan. I wasn’t sure. Maybe I could? Maybe not.
As of late, my tastes have changed again. In the interest of eating healthier food and reducing my consumption of animal products, I have been investigating the non-dairy cheese options available to me. The biggest critique of soy cheese out there is that, well… it tastes like soy cheese, or it doesn’t melt or behave like its dairy counterparts. However, there are some substitutions out there that are vegan and work very well. My favorite among them is Daiya vegan cheese. As far as processed foods go, it’s pretty darn good both in terms of taste and food quality. The calorie count is low and there aren’t any crazy preservatives, derivatives or antibiotics in it. That said, I’m not exactly a cheese connoisseur, so others might wholly disagree with my characterization of it, but I think it tastes an awful lot like the real deal.
Daiya recently came out with a new pepper jack flavor and it’s great! It has just enough of a bite and melts nicely in the right dishes. Last night, using some CSA veggies and Daiya cheese, I worked up a nice tex-mex inspired dinner. Just like some would not agree that vegan cheese is worth the time or the effort, they might not find my enchiladas terribly authentic….oh well! They tasted great and filled our tex-mex craving with far fewer calories than dining out!
Lishy’s Vegan “Enchiladas”
What you’ll need:
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (I used a cup of dry beans, then prepared them–you can also use 1 can rinsed)
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small onion, diced and browned
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs water
2 tsp taco seasoning mix (or combination of spices equal to this amount e.g. cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, etc)
salt to taste
1 pkg whole wheat flour tortillas (use the medium-sized version unless you plan to make a ton of little ones or a smaller number of massive ones!)
1 can enchilada sauce
1 Pkg Daiya pepperjack cheese shreds
What you’ll do:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, thin tomato paste in water, add spices and onion, then mix in beans, half of the daiya shreds and zucchini. Set aside; grease baking pan (I use two 9×9 pans and put four in each so it’s easier to bake one and a time and freeze/save the other for another meal). Spoon bean mixture evenly into each tortilla, roll up and place in pan, seam-side down. Pour enchilada sauce evenly across filled tortillas and sprinkle remaining daiya shreds evenly across the top. Cover with foil and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the “cheese” has melted and the edges appear slightly crispy.
Plate and serve with fresh veggies for a satisfying, vegan meal!
When preparing this, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1.) If you do plan to save some for later, either freeze them without pouring on the sauce and baking, or bake them as though you were going to consume them right away and then refrigerate/freeze them when cool. They do keep very well if baked first, frozen and then re-heated in the oven. I generally like to make a huge batch and then save them for when I don’t have time to cook or when I’m out of town so Cam can just pop them in the oven.
2.) These are really filling and very high in fiber. I can only eat one, usually, or two if I’m really hungry.
3.) These are also easy to prep in advance and then assemble and bake in short order when you’re ready for them. If you make the bean mixture with everything except the zucchini and the “cheese” it can sit in the fridge for a day or two before you’re ready to use it.Then, just add the daiya shreds and veg right before assembly and you’re good to go.
4.) The zucchini can be substituted with just about any other green veggie. Spinach or other leafy greens would be great in this dish if they are blanched first. Go wild with your green self!
Wow… just writing about this gets me excited about the leftovers we have to enjoy tonight!