Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas with Roasted Poblano Sauce | Gluten Free | Vegan

Crunchy toasted tortillas filled with sweet roasted butternut pumpkin, hearty black beans, creamy avocado, and spicy coriander and roasted poblano sauce. This vegan, gluten free dish makes a great week night meal, or a memorable winter lunch with friends!

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeGrowing up ‘Mexican-inspired food’ meant one of two meals: beef tacos, or taco spuds. I still love a good taco (now with beans) and taco spuds are one of the true pleasures in life, especially when piled high with cheese and really fluffy guacamole. Now, my definition of Mexican-inspired food has grown considerably, thanks to lots of American friends on the internet, and some time in California, spiritual home of the taco and tostada.

I love the ease of tostadas – just a really crunchy tortilla or soft taco really. You can top them with any combination of vegetables, beans (or meat), cheese, and sauce that you like, then fold and crunch your way through. Or, you know, be ladylike and eat them with a knife and fork. I prefer to eat these with my hands. It’s so much more fun that way!

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeWhen I think of Mexican food I usually think first of bright red sauce, fresh tomatoes, and salsa. But there is so much more to explore in the fusion of Mexican and other cuisines, or taking inspiration from the seasons. Winter heralds the season of sweet, dewy butternut pumpkins and creamy plump avocados, both of which pair beautifully with smoky black beans, and my bright roasted poblano, coriander, and lime sauce. It’s not exactly authentic, but these vegan, gluten free tostadas celebrate winter’s seasonal produce and have all the elements that will have your taste buds craving for just another messy delicious bite.
Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeMy roasted poblano sauce is bright with fresh coriander and lots of lime juice. The roasted poblanos are a soft heat. If you want more spice, try dicing up a green chilli and adding it to the blender with the coriander. This sauce would also make a great addition to guacamole, or as a quick topping for grilled vegetables or meat. In these tostadas the sweet cubes of roasted butternut pumpkin combine with creamy chunks of avocado and spicy poblano sauce in every bite and assault your tastebuds from every angle.

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten FreeThese Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas with Roasted Poblano Sauce do make a great week night meal, but add a few margaritas (or a sweet dry white wine), maybe some salsa and chips, and you have the perfect menu for a sunny winter lunch with friends.

There’s something endearing about this sort of get your hands dirty food. People have to drop pretensions and just come to the table just as they are. Dig your hands in, connect with your food and just have some fun. Connecting through food with the people you love, now that’s the most authentic dish no matter where you are.
Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten Free

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas with Roasted Poblano Sauce

Serves 2-3 | Gluten Free | Vegan

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 poblano chilies
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup (packed) coriander leaves
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Small onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To assemble

  • 500 grams butternut pumpkin
  • 6 small gluten free corn tortillas (I used these ones)
  • 400 gram can black beans
  • 1 small avocado

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line two baking trays with baking paper.
  2. First, make the sauce. Place chilies onto one of the baking trays. Roast until the chili’s skin has softened and blackened. This will take about 30-40 minutes. Turn the chilies over every ten minutes. Once chilies are cooked allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Place chilies into small food processor (or a blender) and add garlic, coriander, and lime juice. Process until combined but still a little chunky. Dice onion and stir through the sauce along with the salt and pepper. Set sauce aside until needed.
  4. Peel butternut pumpkin and cut into playing dice-sized pieces and place them on the baking tray. You can re-use the chili tray and paper (it makes for less clean up!).
  5. Roast until the pumpkin is soft to the centre, about 20 minutes. Keep warm until serving.
  6. Place corn tortillas in a single layer on the second baking tray. Bake for 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and bake for 5 minutes on the second side. This will crisp up the tortillas.
  7. While the tortillas bake, drain and rinse black beans. Place in a small sauce pan and warm gently over a low heat.
  8. Dice avocado in preparation.
  9. To assemble: place a tortilla on your plate, top with roasted pumpkin, warmed beans, and dice avocado. Drizzle roasted poblano sauce over the top. Dig in!

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Avocado Tostadas | Vegan | Gluten Free

Black Bean and Millet Stuffed Peppers

Sometimes I distract myself from what I am doing in the moment by remembering meals from long ago. I recall the taste of stracciatella gelato from a holiday in Italy, or the stuffed cabbage rolls my grandmother used to make, or perhaps that cookie I nibbled in a cafe high up in a New York skyscraper a few years ago. Just last week I was recalling the exact heat of the sunshine and the lap of the water against the piers when I sat in a restaurant in Sausalito with a German girl I met at the bed and breakfast I was staying in. Two strangers in one of the best cities in the world we had banded together for two days of wandering. A short ferry ride from San Francisco we ended up in the dreamy town of Sausalito. After admiring the little shops and sidewalk flowerbeds spilling over with spring blooms we ended up at one of the many great restaurants that crowd along the seashore.

Black Bean and Millet Stuffed Peppers | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Not only were we treated to views of the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge and the skyline of San Francisco, the food was also stunning. My eyes were immediately drawn to a couscous stuffed capsicum and when it arrived at the table, pearls of giant couscous spilling from the scarlet casement, I knew I had ordered right. Perhaps that is where my capsicum/pepper stuffing obsession began.

This is my early summer ode to that long ago spring day. Sweet long peppers (I think these were either banana peppers or Sonora chili peppers) are opened and stuffed with a millet, black bean, tomato and spice filling and then baked in the oven to soften the flesh and bring out the natural sweetness of the pepper. If you are looking for a make ahead dish to impress dinner party guests, this is your answer. The filling can be made up to a day in advance, and on the day you only need to assemble the peppers, leave them to soften and blister in the oven and then serve them with a fresh green salad to the delight of your guests. And this recipe will delight your guests, so chic, so colourful, and gluten free and vegan so it pleases many palates. If you are serving this to omnivores, some roast chicken would be a great accompaniment.

Black Bean and Millet Stuffed Peppers | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Millet has an unfortunate reputation as food for the birds, and I for one would love to see this small ancient seed have its time in the sun. The yellow grains are easy to cook and provide decent amounts of important minerals such as copper and magnesium. Millet is so versatile, and in this dish the millet is combined with tomatoes, black beans, onions, herbs and spices for a hearty stuffing that contrasts well with the sweet roasted pepper. You could even serve the filling by itself with a crispy green salad if you do not have time to roast the peppers.

I can’t wait to make these again for a dinner party and share them with friends and family. Add some wine and some travel stories and you have the makings of  a great summer evening.

Black Bean and Millet Stuffed Peppers | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Black Bean and Millet Stuffed Peppers

Gluten Free | Vegan | Serves 4 | Leftovers will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to two days. To reheat: place on a microwave safe plate and cover with paper towel. Heat on high for two minutes.

Ingredients

  • 4 large banana peppers (or medium red capsicums instead)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup uncooked millet
  • 400 gram tin crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 400 gram tin black beans

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
  2. Wash and dry peppers well. Cut peppers from stem to tip and carefully remove seeds and white ribs from the insides. Leave the stem intact. Lay peppers on a lined baking sheet until required.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy based sauce pan, over medium heat. Fry diced onion, crushed garlic, paprika, herbs, salt and pepper until onions are translucent.
  4. Add millet to pan along with crushed tomatoes and water. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and cover with lid. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until millet is firm but not crunchy.
  5. Rinse black beans well and add to the millet mixture. Stir well.
  6. Remove millet mixture from heat. Spoon stuffing into prepared peppers.
  7. Place peppers into the oven and bake for 45 minutes or until the peppers are soft and wrinkled.
  8. Remove from oven and serve with a large green salad.

Black Bean and Millet Stuffed Peppers | Vegan | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Vegan Black Bean Chilli

Chris and I ate so much of this chilli the other night that we gave ourselves stomach aches. On Sunday after Mother’s Day breakfast, a quick run, two hours spent cleaning the oven, and a smoothie for lunch, I needed to set something bubbling away on the stove while I got down to some dissertation writing business (some of the aforementioned activities may have been procrastination tactics…). This is the second time in as many weeks that I have made a big pot of this vegan black bean chilli. The first time I greedily kept it all to myself. When Chris finally managed to scavenge a bite out of the last bowl he said ‘mmm good chilli.’

Vegan Black Bean Chilli | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Now, when your meat-loving, bacon-snuggling, chicken-chomping darling boyfriend expresses interest in your vegetarian – nay, vegan – dinner, lady, you better pay attention and make another pot of chilli – stat!

This is one of those best dishes layered with spices and filled with vegetables that makes your house smell like a home. As you ladle the thick, chunky stew into bowls and sprinkle it with coriander and spring onions you can feel a blanket of cosiness wrapping around you and your loved ones. Add some toasted bread, or some crackers, even some avocado chopped on top would go well. Then take yourself to the comfiest spot in the house, curl up beside the one you love, and nourish body and soul with a bowl of this vegan chilli.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, the boyfriend did end up having some roasted chicken breast stirred through his, which was enough to fill the ‘meat category’ for dinner.)

Vegan Black Bean Chilli | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Vegan Black Bean Chilli

Adapted from Cookie + Kate’s Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chilli. Thanks Kate for letting me feature my adaptation here.

Serves 6 | Vegan | Gluten Free |

I used dried black beans that needed soaking overnight. If you want to use canned black beans or even kidney beans, just skip the soaking step. If you wish for a milder chilli you could leave out the chilli flakes and decrease the chilli powder to 1 teaspoon. 

You could serve the chilli with these scones, or this cornbread if you feel like doing some baking while your chilli bubbles away. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • ½ medium red capsicum
  • 2 stems celery
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chilli powder
  • Sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 800 gram tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • Chopped coriander, spring onion, avocado and other toppings to serve

Method

  1. Place beans in a medium size bowl, cover with water, add baking soda and stir. Allow to soak for 8 hours, or overnight.
  2. Dice red onion, carrot, capsicum, and celery. Peel sweet potato and chop into small chunks.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or small stock pot over medium heat.
  4. Add vegetables to sauce pan. Sauté vegetables for a few minutes or until onions start to go clear and carrots begin to soften.
  5. Crush garlic and add to pot along with spices, tomatoes, and vegetable stock.
  6. Drain beans and rinse very well. Add to pot.
  7. Give everything a big stir and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for up to two hours. Stir every so often so that the chilli does not stick to the bottom of the pot. The liquid will reduce to a gravy-like consistency and the vegetables will soften during cooking time.
  8. Ladle into bowls, top with garnishes of choice and enjoy.
  9. Chilli will keep in the fridge for 3 days in an airtight container, or in the freezer in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

Vegan Black Bean Chilli | Gluten Free | Vegan | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Despite our Sunday night stuffed-with-chilli tummy aches, we will definitely be making several more batches of this during the next few chilly months (oh, a pun at the end!).