It’s a good time to be vegan.
In addition to restaurants increasingly catering to the diet, from special menus to 100 percent vegan kitchens, a slew of upcoming cookbooks are devoted to meat- and dairy-free recipes. To name a few, this year will see “Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics” (Feb. 27), “The Wicked Healthy Cookbook: Free. From. Animals.” (May 8) and “Ageless Vegan” (June 12).
But first up, there’s “Power Plates” (out Jan. 23, Ten Speed Press, $24.99) by Gena Hamshaw.
The NYC nutritionist behind the plant-based recipe blog “The Full Helping” and the vegan cookbooks “Choosing Raw” and “Food52: Vegan” offers 100 one-dish vegan meals in her latest release.
The recipes range from salads to soups, breakfast to bowls, stovetop to bakes. The latter offerings, which Hamshaw says she “turns to in the dead of winter,” include a recipe for sweet potato nacho fries.
“Sweet potato fries are one of my favorite things to eat, and for a long time I wondered how I could transform them from a side dish into a full meal,” the author writes. “The answer is to load them up with lots of fixings, including black beans, avocado, and fresh vegetables, and then smother them with a creamy cashew-based queso sauce.”
In addition to the fixings in her recipe, Hamshaw recommends topping the sweet potato fries with your own favorite nacho fillings, like hot sauce, salsa and pickled jalapeño chilies.
Bakes like the sweet potato fries are good for feasts or special occasions, Hamshaw notes. If you’re hosting or attending a Super Bowl party next month, these will surely be a fan favorite among vegans and non-vegans alike.
Sweet potato nacho fries
Makes 4 to 6 servings, and about 1 cup of queso sauce
4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into spears
2 tbsp. neutral vegetable oil
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Cashew queso sauce
1⁄2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chili powder
1⁄4 tsp. smoked paprika
3 tbsp. nutritional yeast
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1⁄2 small red onion, finely diced
1 Hass avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1⁄2 tsp. agave nectar or maple syrup
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1 1⁄2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 15-oz can, drained and rinsed
To prepare the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the sweet potatoes in a large bowl, drizzle with the oil, and toss until evenly coated. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, pepper and cayenne, adding a bit more cayenne if you like things spicy. Scatter the spice mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss again. Spread the sweet potatoes on the baking sheets in an even layer. Bake, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes, until quite crispy.
Meanwhile, make the queso sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a blender (preferably a high-speed blender) and process until totally smooth. If the sauce is thicker than you’d like, add another tablespoonful of water.
To prepare the fixings, put the tomatoes, onion, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, agave nectar and salt in a medium bowl and toss to combine.
Put the sweet potatoes in a large serving dish. Top with the tomato mixture, then the black beans.
Finally, drizzle the queso sauce evenly over the top. Serve right away, with any other desired toppings.
Reprinted with permission from Power Plates, copyright © 2018 by Gena Hamshaw. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Ashley McLaughlin.