If being plant-based meant no tacos, I’m not sure I could do it. Thankfully, plant-based tacos are pretty amazing. You can make these with simple ingredients and minimal equipment (food processor is optional).
This lentil walnut taco meat is a game changer. I recommend cooking a big batch of lentils every once in a while and cooking with them throughout the week. Keep a container in your fridge, and then you can scoop out two cups for this taco meat, use some for a lentil loaf, or mix them with salsa and put on nachos, use for stuffed sweet potatoes, or use some in a shepherds pie. With dry lentils you can also make these addictive lentil sloppy joes, or this fast and yummy lentil soup. Can you tell I like lentils? They’re super nutritious, and very cheap and versatile.
Whenever you find yourself wanting delicious Mexican food (which is about every day for me!), it doesn’t take long to whip these yummy tacos up!
Prepare your favorite taco toppings and you have an easy, very healthy taco bar/Mexican night that your family will LOVE you for!
This taco meat freezes really well, too. You can pull it out to put on taco salad, nachos, in a lettuce wrap, etc.
This guide from Martha Stewart has great directions on cooking lentils just right, to avoid getting them overcooked and mushy.
Quick, minimal-ingredient tacos are packed with plant protein, healthy fats and deliciousness!
- 2 cups cooked brown lentils (about 3/4 cup dry)
- 1 cup walnuts or sunflower seeds
- 3 tsp taco seasoning, add more to taste (or 1 tsp each of garlic powder, cumin, oregano, chili powder and 1/4 tsp salt)
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 8 small corn or flour tortillas (the blend of corn and flour are also good, although they do have oil in them)
- toppings of choice: avocado, salsa, cilantro, tomato, cashew queso, this cabbage slaw
- 3 cups chopped cabbage or cole slaw mix (found in the bagged salad section)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)
- salt and pepper
Cook lentils. Make sure lentils are well-drained by putting them in a colandar. The drier they are, the more crumbly your taco "meat" will be.
Place the walnuts or sunflower seeds on a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Alternatively, toast them in a skillet on the stove. This step is optional, but toasting the nuts first brings out their flavor.
Put the walnuts in a food processor, pulse a few times until walnuts are coarse but not fine. Add all other ingredients and pulse lightly until all mixed together and the mixture resembles ground beef.
If you don't have a food processor, chop the walnuts finely. Stir together with lentils, tomato paste and spices.
To assemble the tacos, warm up corn or flour tortillas (either toast on the stove or microwave a stack for 20 seconds). Let each person make their own taco by filling a tortilla with the taco "meat," topping with cabbage slaw, gaucamole, cilantro, tomatoes, green onions, cashew queso, salsa, or whatever strikes your taco fancy.
Toss all ingredients together with salt and pepper to taste
It is best to cook your lentils in advance, not right before using. This allows them to absorb all the water so they don't make your lentil mixture soggy.
In order to prevent the filling from being mushy, make sure to not overcook the lentils. This guide has great directions on cooking lentils just right. If your lentils do get very soft, mix them in a bowl with the chopped walnuts and tomato sauce, and skip the food processor.
For the tomato sauce, I usually use a jarred marinara sauce or pizza sauce and use the rest for spagetti or another dish later in the week. Whenever you open a jar of tomato sauce or a can of tomato paste, you can also freeze small portions and use as needed, to avoid wasting leftovers.