Pile ’Em High Epic Plant-Powered Nachos

Excerpted from Blissful Basil by Ashley Melillo

Serves 6 | 1 hour +

Pile ’em high, pile ’em wide. No matter which way you stack ’em, these nachos will have you oohing, aahing, and delightedly dipping. Crunchy tortilla chips are lavishly dressed with Yellow Split Pea Nacho Cheese, Sunflower // Walnut Taco Crumbles, pico de gallo, guacamole, black beans, and pickled jalapeños before being drizzled with tangy Cashew Sour Cream. Best yet? This tall stack of nachos has been known to win over meat lovers and plant lovers alike.

Yellow Split Pea Nacho Cheese

1/2 cup uncooked yellow split peas, thoroughly rinsed
2 cups water
1 cup peeled and small-diced (1/3-inch cubes)
Yukon gold potato (about 1 medium)
1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup drained and roughly chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1–1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4–1 teaspoon sea salt or more to taste
A few generous dashes of hot sauce (optional)

Cashew Sour Cream

1 cup raw cashews
1/2–3/4 cup filtered water
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1–2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon tahini
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Sunflower // Walnut Taco Crumbles

3/4 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds or raw walnuts
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Quick Pico de Gallo

2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4–1/2 small red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or to taste
Sea salt

Speedy Guacamole

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and peeled
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2–1 lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped (optional)
Sea salt

Nacho Base and Toppings

4–6 servings sturdy tortilla chips
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup Quick Pickled Jalapeños (optional)
4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (optional)
Sliced black olives (optional)

For the Yellow Split Pea Nacho Cheese

Add the split peas to a medium saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the split peas are very tender and mushy. Strain off excess water. Note: Split peas vary greatly in their cooking time, but you want them to be nearly fall-apart tender so that they blend up velvety and smooth. If they’re undercooked, your nacho cheese will have a subtle grit to it, and no one wants that.

While the split peas are cooking, steam the diced potato and garlic in a steamer or steamer basket for 20–30 minutes, or until fall-apart tender. (Avoid steaming in the microwave because it will dry out the potato.) Shake off excess water that accumulated while steaming.

Add the cooked split peas, potatoes, and garlic to a high-speed blender along with the almond milk, nutritional yeast, roasted red peppers, lemon juice, paprika, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and hot sauce (if using). Blend on low for 10 seconds to get everything moving, increase the speed to high, and then continue to blend for 3 minutes, or until completely smooth. You want to blend long enough to bring out the starches in the potato, as this will help create a velvety texture.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve alongside your favorite tortilla chips for dipping.

This dip is best enjoyed warm; however, leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days in an airtight container and reheated.

For the Cashew Sour Cream

Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend on high for 2–3 minutes, or until completely smooth. Transfer to an airtight jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

For the Sunflower // Walnut Taco Crumbles

Add the sunflower seeds or walnuts, tamari, apple cider vinegar, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and garlic powder to a food processor. Pulse several times and then process for 30 seconds, or until the texture resembles a fine crumble. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

For the Quick Pico de Gallo

In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes, red onion, and cilantro. Season with sea salt to taste.

For the Speedy Guacamole

Add the avocado, garlic, and lime juice to a medium bowl and use the back of a fork to thoroughly mash. Stir in the cilantro (if using), and season with sea salt to taste.

To Assemble

On a large serving platter or baking tray, spread out a layer of tortilla chips and top with the nacho cheese, taco crumbles, pico de gallo, and black beans. Repeat, creating two or three layers. Drizzle with the sour cream and garnish with the jalapeños, scallions, and black olives, if desired. Serve alongside the guacamole.

No Nuts? No Problem | To keep this nut-free, use a nut-free plant-based milk in the Yellow Split Pea Nacho Cheese, omit the Cashew Sour Cream, and opt for the Sunflower Taco Crumbles.

No Soy? No Problem | To keep this soy-free, use coconut aminos instead of reduced-sodium tamari in the Sunflower // Walnut Taco Crumbles.

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