Several years ago, I went through a serious yoga phase. I’m talking seven days a week of heated 90-minute yoga classes, including one morning that I chose to go to my 10:30am yoga class instead of going to brunch (I know, WHAT?!). During my yoga phase, I also decided to embrace a healthier lifestyle, including an intense foray into a mostly raw, plant-based diet. I learned how to make cheesy kale chips, dehydrated flax seed and carrot pulp crackers, and became a huge fan of Cafe Gratitude, which was two blocks from my office. I had no idea vegan food was more than just tofu and salad, and Cafe Gratitude changed the way I saw plant-based foods. Their nacho plate became my go-to lunch on a regular basis. How could something made entirely out of plants be so delicious and satisfying?
Alas, just a year or two later, Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco shuttered but its sister restaurant, Gracias Madre, still serves up a 100% plant-based menu…though I never found the time to go while I still lived in the city. Cut to this past weekend, when Sydnee (one of my best friends of nearly 20 years) and I decided to meet up in Los Angeles. We share a love for Native Foods Cafe and Veggie Grill, and when I suggested we check out Gracias Madre in West Hollywood, she was all about it. The restaurant itself is gorgeous, and the food is equally beautiful. I came away with a renewed appreciation for cashew cheese sauce, and when I got home, I set out to recreate the potato flautas that I couldn’t stop thinking about!
So here is my version of Flautas de Papas inspired by Gracias Madre.
FLAUTAS DE PAPAS
Flautas + Filling
8 corn tortillas
2 medium sized potatoes
1 tsp salt
2 onions, caramelized
Black pepper, optional
Baking sheet, greased with olive oil
Garnish: chopped cilantro, shredded lettuce
Peel and cube potatoes, put into a pot, cover with water, and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower it to a medium heat and let the potatoes cook until tender (you should be able to easily mash them). Remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the caramelized onions and mash together, adding more salt to taste, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.
Voila! That is your filling. This can be made ahead, or, at this point, heat your oven to 400F. Warm your corn tortillas either on a griddle or in the microwave for 30 seconds to get them pliable. Lay a thick stripe of filling towards one side of the tortilla, roll up, and secure with a toothpick, then lay them on the greased baking sheet. Brush the rolled up flauta with olive oil, and continue with the rest of the tortillas until you have 8 flautas. To make sure they end up extra crispy, keep a little bit of space between them so they have a chance to “air fry” as they bake. When the oven is ready, pop them in for 25 minutes or until they are crispy and golden.
Pico de Gallo
2 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 of a white onion
juice of 2 limes
To make the Pico de Gallo, simply toss all the ingredients together and salt to taste. To make it spicy, feel free to add some chopped (seeded) jalapeño.
1 ripe avocado
juice of 1-2 limes
1/4 onion, finely chopped (optional)
In a medium sized bowl, mashed the ripe avocado with the lime juice, then add salt to taste. You can add a spoonful of Pico de Gallo to your avocado for more texture/flavor.
1 cup cashews, soaked for a few hours
1/2 cup water
2 T lemon juice
1 tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender (like the Vitamix) and blend until smooth. It will have a creamy consistency just like actual sour cream.
To make the Spicy Nacho Cheese, I took half of the finished Cashew Crema and added the following and gave it another few pulses in the Vitamix:
1/4 tsp ground chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/8 cup nutritional yeast
½ jalapeno, more or less, depending how spicy you like it (seeded and chopped, optional)
Final assembly: I’ve allotted four flautas per person, but you can serve them individually or in pairs as appetizers. On a plate, lay four flautas down, then top with the shredded lettuce. Add a dollop of guacamole, cashew cream, pico de gallo, and a touch of nacho cheese (if you’re using it), then do a big sprinkle of cilantro across the top.
I promise, even meat eaters will find this delicious! If you need more “stuff” in your filling, feel free to add black beans, corn kernels, mushrooms, zucchini…the possibilities are pretty much endless. Hope you like it, and leave me a comment below if you end up trying this recipe!