I don't eat a whole lot of meat substitutes, but I do have a few favorites, and every now and then I'll see something new at the store and decide to give it a go. And every now and then one of the new ones I try gets added on to my favorites list. That's what happened with Trader Joe's vegan chorizo. I've never had traditional chorizo, so I was curious. It was delicious, so now it's one of the few meat substitutes that I do indulge in on occasion.
It was all the spices that made me love veggie chorizo so much. A little bit hot, a little smoky, and so much flavor. That got me thinking, if all the flavor I loved so much in this stuff comes from the spices, it shouldn't matter too much what the chorizo is actually made out of. The base is really just a vehicle for all the spice.
That's what prompted me to take my first crack at vegan chorizo with these stuffed zucchinis. I made that chorizo out of lentils and walnuts, thinking they'd be perfect for the texture. This time around I decided to switch things up and go with chickpeas and walnuts. I liked it even better.
The chickpeas get briefly blitzed in a food processor to create this meatless chorizo. The key is not to overdo it—4 or 5 pulses is plenty. Once you've chopped your chickpeas and walnuts in the food processor, they get cooked up quickly in a skillet with lots of spices, to give you that hot and smoky chorizo flavor. The chickpea chorizo gets piled onto crispy tostada shells and topped with a drizzle of avocado crema, to balance out the heavy spices. I threw a bit of shredded lettuce and tomatoes onto my tostadas for texture. Feel free to substitute or add your favorite veggies or tostada toppings though.
For the chickpea chorizo:
- 1 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or more, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Generous pinch ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
For the shells:
- 6 corn tortillas
- Cooking oil or spray
For the avocado crema:
- Shredded lettuce
- Diced tomato
Make the chickpea chorizo:
- Place the chickpeas and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade. Pulse 4 or 5 times, just until the chickpeas are chopped and crumbly, being careful not to overdo it.
- Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with oil and place it over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté about 1 minute more, until very fragrant. Add the chickpea mixture, paprika, cumin, ancho chile powder, thyme, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, cloves, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the skillet. Gently flip a few times to incorporate the spices into the mixture. Cook, flipping occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture dries out a bit and begins to crisp in spots. Add vinegar and flip a few more times to incorporate. Remove from heat and season with additional salt and cayenne pepper if desired.
Make the shells:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly spray both sides of the tortillas with oil or cooking spray, then place them in the over, arranging them flat, directly on the oven rack. Bake until they begin to brown and crisp, about 8 minutes.
Make the avocado crema:
- While the shells bake, place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste test and season with additional salt if desired.
Assemble the tostadas:
- Divide the chickpea chorizo among the shells and top with lettuce, tomato and avocado crema. Serve.