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The Incredible Vegan Tacos

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
  • Calories: 320
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Total Fat: 16 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 14.5 g
    • Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 35 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 7 g
  • Total Sugar: 1 g
    • Natural Sugar: 1 g
    • Added Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 610 mg

Move over, Fridays! Tuesdays may just be my favorite day of the week because that’s the day we make tacos. I often use ground poultry for my taco filling, but I’ve recently started rotating in this plant-forward recipe. The dish combines a trio of vegan powerhouses to create a hearty-beef-like taco experience: lentils, black beans, and walnuts. Plant-based foods contain fiber, phytonutrients, and other compounds that have been shown to promote health. Plus, they help cut back on greenhouse gases and have a smaller carbon footprint than meat products. I season my “meat” with a simple DIY taco seasoning blend, but you can easily use a store-bought packet (just make sure to grab an extra one—most packets contain only about 4 tablespoons—and you may decide on a little extra for a more intense flavor). This recipe makes 5 heaping cups of filling for countless tacos, but it also tastes terrific on salads and sammies, too. Get ready for one fantasTACO feast!

Note: The color of the “meat” filling will vary depending on the type of seasonings and variety of lentils you use.

  • Prep time
  • Total Time
This recipe makes about 20 tacos
Ingredients:

Taco “meat”

  • • 2½ cups cooked brown lentils*
  • • 1 cup toasted walnuts**
  • • 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • • 4 to 6 tablespoon taco seasoning blend (store-bought or make your own using recipe below)

 DIY Taco seasoning*** (makes 6 tablespoons)

  • • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • • 2½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

For Taco assembly

  • • Hard or soft taco shells
  • • Chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions
  • • Optional toppers: corn, sliced jalapenos, avocado, salsa

*To make lentils, add 1 cup dry brown lentils with vegetable broth (enough to cover lentils) in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Drain well. This will yield ~2½ cups cooked lentils.

**To toast walnuts, spread walnuts on a baking sheet and toast in 300°-oven about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.

***To make your own Taco Seasoning blend, mix all seasoning ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

Preparation:

Add cooked, drained lentils to the bowl of a food processor, along with black beans and walnuts. Gently pulse to combine and slightly break down the mixture (it will happen fast), but do not puree it. There should still be lots of texture with pieces of nuts and some whole beans.

Liberally coat a large skillet with nonstick olive oil spray and warm over medium-low heat. Add lentil-bean-walnut mixture along with ¼ cup of taco seasoning blend and 2 tablespoons warm water. Gently fold and stir the mixture to incorporate all seasonings and warm everything; be careful not to mash it into a puree (maintain as much texture as possible). Taste and add more taco seasoning, if desired (I typically add 1 to 2 more tablespoons), along with any additional preferred seasoning.

TO ASSEMBLE TACOS: Add ¼ cup filling to each taco shell, along with lettuce, tomatoes, and optional toppings.

Nutrition provided for 2 assembled tacos. 

Try this Lentil and Mushroom Bolognese!