Whose cheese is it? Nacho cheese! Get it? 😉
This yummy black bean salad is topped with a cashew-based “cheese” sauce. It is creamy. It is decadent. It is nut-based, and it is fatty! Nuts are on the list of plant-based foods that are relatively high in total fat and saturated fat. Even though nuts are plant foods and we eat them in their most whole and unprocessed state, they should be eaten sparingly on a whole foods plant based diet. It might come as a surprise that not all plants are good for you, but think about it: there are many inedible plants that are down right poisonous to eat. Allergens aside, some plant foods fall in a gray area between “good for you” and “avoid,” like mango (related to poison ivy, and can’t be eaten by some people). Even tomatoes, eggplant and peppers technically belong to the nightshade family. The natural defense of these plants against predators is to release a bitter compound (sometimes mustard oil). If you make sure nuts are a “sometimes” food you will be able to enjoy their fatty smooth texture in plant-based sauces like this nacho “cheese” dressing.
For the salad:
2 Cups of cooked black beans (or 1 15oz. can, drained and rinsed)
3 Cloves garlic, chopped
1 Large onion, sliced into thin strips
1 Green bell pepper, chopped
1 Spicy yellow pepper (or jalapeno), chopped
2 Cups cooked whole grain brown rice
3 Cups leafy green lettuce, chopped
1 Avocado, thinly sliced
1 Tomato, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
For the nacho “cheese” sauce:
1 Cup roasted unsalted cashews, soaked overnight (or boiled for 10 minutes)
2 Cups water
1/2 Cup nutritional yeast
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1/4 Teaspoon smoked paprika
Combine the nacho “cheese” ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour the “cheese” into a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add a little water if necessary to get a “melted” consistency.
Cook the garlic, onion, bell pepper and spicy pepper in a large pot over medium high heat using the water saute method. Add the black beans and cook until heated through. Layer the lettuce, rice, and black bean mixture in serving bowls. Top with the avocado and chopped tomato. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the salad, then drizzle with warm nacho “cheese” sauce. Enjoy!