Vege Nachos

Serves 4

No gluten, dairy, cane sugar; with options for tomato, potato, legumes, vegan and Paleo

A fiesta of bright colours and flavours. Serve as a big Mexican-style platter. This can be an easy, popular dinner served with a salad or mixed steamed veg such as carrot, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or broccoli. Add rice or bread for heartier appetites. Small amounts of plant protein from different sources, or mixed with a small amount of animal protein can upgrade satiety and nutrients. Learn more about your protein needs here.

Colours can indicate a specific range of antioxidants and other supportive micronutrients. Eat 5 helpings from the 5 colours of fruit and veg daily to get the best array of health helpers.
Here crisply coated vege slices are used as a base instead of corn chips. These are topped with tomato or pumpkin sauce and protein options; a flutter of leafy greens then creamy aioli or guacamole. Ole!

1 kg small potatoes, narrow kumara or mixed
2 Tbsp polenta/coarse cornmeal (or less authentic sesame seeds)
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
salt and pepper
***
Nacho Sauce:
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil*
2 spicy sausages, sliced (or Protein Options as below)
1 large red onion, sliced
2 small courgettes, sliced
1 small chilli, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika*
***
400 grams tomato puree (or 1½ cups + 2 Tbsp cooked – roasted is ideal – mashed pumpkin)
12 black olives
¼ cup coconut sugar* or date syrup*
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oreganum
1 tsp sea salt with kelp*

Protein Options:
L’Authentique brand or other additive-free sausage
or vegan sausage, or halved falafel, or 1 cup cooked black beans

Toppings:
baby spinach/kale leaves or mesclun
homemade or vegan aioli
or my Hummus or Turkish Kitchen Traditional, or guacamole

Thinly slice potato or kumara so they will cook quickly and be crisp like chips. Toss with polenta for extra crunch and then oil. Place in one layer in a large, oiled roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Fan Grill at 180°C (or Bake 200°) for about 20 minutes. Toss occasionally until crisp.

Meanwhile prepare sauce. In olive oil cook sausage, onion, courgette, chilli and garlic over low-medium heat until veg are slightly soft. Do not brown. Stir in garlic and paprika and cook 2 minutes or more to develop flavours.

Stir in the tomato or pumpkin puree, olives, coconut sugar, vinegar, herbs and salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer 5 minutes or more (if using falafel or beans, add when simmering) until veg and sausage are cooked.

On a heated platter make a circle of potato. In the centre place the Nacho Sauce. Sprinkle the sauce with leafy greens. Top with thin ribbons of aioli, hummus or guacamole. Serve with side salad or mixed steamed veg.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*
• Coconut sugar: granulated; looks like raw sugar; mild caramel taste. Buy from health stores and many supermarkets; use in baking like brown sugar. Made from the syrup of coconut palms. Low 35 GI; good source of alkaline minerals, iron, zinc, some B vitamins.

• Date Syrup: all-natural sweet syrup with fibre, micronutrients (potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B and K) and no added sugar. Made with whole dates and nothing else, it is wonderfully thick and dark with a taste between caramel and molasses. From health stores and supermarkets.

• Olive Oil: extra virgin olive oil is achieved by using cold mechanical pressure rather than the high heat and chemical solvents typical to most supermarket oils. These practices damage oils and the people who eat them. For information on which fats to choose for which purpose and why, see my TIPS article: The Fats of Life.

• Paprika: only use top quality smoky, sweet Spanish paprika such as La Chinata. This is sold in small decorative tins in the supermarket. Ordinary paprika is usually stale, pale and without the punchy vigour this product contributes to dishes.

• Sea salt: is sea water dehydrated by sun. When mixed with seaweed or kelp (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Harker brands; both in health and gourmet stores. NOTE these are less salty in taste than other brands. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals are stripped away, such as potassium and magnesium which help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure. Bleach as a whitener and chemicals to prevent clumping may be added to table salt.

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