A few months ago, I went to Taco Bell. (Wow, big whoop, right?) Being vegetarian, this is one of the few fast-food restaurants that my family and I can eat at. Not to mention that at the time, I was transitioning into attempting veganism (I am about 7/8 vegan now ;D). We were on our way home from our annual trip to Bismarck, ND (we have family there), and I decided to try a menu item called Fiesta Potatoes. This came with large dollops of cheddar cheese and sour cream on them, and they themselves were deep fried and covered in seasoning. Sounds good right? Ohhhhhh yes they were good. But, I might add, I am also lactose intolerant, so this did not sit well in my stomach. So when the craving came when we were at home one day for Fiesta Potatoes, my inspiration came too. For the last few months, I have been perfecting my “veganized” Fiesta Potatoes.
For those of you that like very clear and precise directions- this recipe is not for those with OCD. Even though I have it down to a science for myself and my taste, I have never done the same thing twice with these. As Namely Marly says- if your life is a snow globe, you gotta shake it up sometimes, right?
You have two choices for potatoes- you could do frozen pre-cut potatoes (these cook quicker without a few extra steps), or you could do home diced red potatoes (I would not recommend any other potato for this) For serving size, I usually do one potato per person.
Chili Powder (this is a definite must)
Olive Oil (or Canola oil, which ever is more accessible)
Also, you’ll need a large or medium frying pan.
Before you start cooking, get some music playing. Rocking out to Jimmy Eat World is my necessity when cooking something like this. Make it fun.
For Home Cooked Potatoes- rinse your potatoes in warm water. Then cut into small pieces (I like to avoid squares, everybody does that! To make it more fun, try trapezoids, rhombuses and triangles- I find it’s actually easier to cut that way too). Throw your pieces into a microwave safe bowl, cook (in the microwave, please don’t do this on the burner) for about 2 or 3 minutes to get them soft. NOTE: Be VERY CAREFUL when taking the bowl out of the microwave, just a few days ago I had quite a fiasco with all of my perfectly ready and done potatoes all over the floor because it was so hot. I recommend using a dish towel or even a scrunched up paper towel to take these out with.
Pre-cut frozen potatoes don’t need any preparation before cooking.
Now you’re ready to cook these suckers!
Put your frying pan on the burner, raise the temperature to high for the first part of cooking. Pour about 3 tablespoons* or so of olive oil into your pan. Take your potatoes, and try and evenly spread them on the pan. Stir it up a little until the oil is pretty evenly spread over your potatoes. Wait about 30 seconds until you can hear it start sizzling, turn your burner down to medium, then start adding your spices.
I usually start with chili powder. Depending on your tolerance for spicy stuff, you’ll want to be careful how much you put on. I would recommend to just sprinkle it evenly over the potatoes, then stir as soon as possible so that none of the powder gets crusty. Next, I do the garlic. I would warn you to be careful with this too, because if it burns and gets crusty the end product will not taste very good. As with the chili powder, spread it evenly and mix promptly. Scatter some paprika for color and slight flavor, add a few sprinkles of black pepper for additional spice. Add a minimal amount of salt, seeing as you can always add more if you need it.
*If your mixture starts drying up, you can add additional oil if needed.
Get a bowl to serve in. Very carefully, transfer the potatoes from the pan to the bowl. Set pan back on burner to cool off, making sure the burner is actually off :).
Take your cheese and grate it over the potatoes to taste. It won’t melt right away, so I usually microwave it for a few seconds to get it to that melty-gooey-goodness. Do-do-a-dollop of vegan sour cream on top, and there you have it!
Don’t forget the cleanup- even though cooking may be fun, somebody’s gotta clean it up, right?
Enjoy:) (You’d better because I have been working on these for months :P)