Taco Tuesdays – they are the best! Actually, tacos are great any day of the week, and especially handy when hosting a party. The reason why they work so well is that with 5-6 different toppings like shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, beans, perhaps some pickled jalapeños, and some “beef” crumbles the food spread will look like a feast! Plus, everyone can go around and make their own tacos their way. What fun!!!
Plus: you can get almost everything from the store, and have the taco night done in no time. If you do have a bit of extra time on your hands, I do recommend that you make your own “beef” crumbles. It is cheaper, and you will be in control of additives and spices. There are many ways to make your own beef crumbles, and I shared the tofu-based as well as quinoa-based recipes before.
Both of those recipes required some time in the oven. Here, I have an easier option for you that is made entirely on the stove top. The recipe uses tempeh, and chopped walnuts to give it richness and protein. It also calls for quite a few spices, to infuse the crumble with umami flavors and smokiness. All you need to do really is crumble the tempeh, chopped the walnuts relatively finely, and sauté for a bit.
Although great, tacos can also be a bit frustrating. For example, I can never get enough lettuce and tomatoes into my taco shell before things start to fall apart. That’s why I decided to ditch the shell and go with a combination which I call taco salad. It starts with a load of shredded iceberg lettuce, and a good amount of tomatoes, beans and avocado (or guacamole). I added a bit of tortilla chips for some crunch, and a nice helping of the beef crumble. Final touch for this salad, as is for any other one, is a bit of acidity – lime juice works great here, and a bit of oil. The salad is pretty rich so you can skip oil if you like. Finally, if you have some fresh cilantro handy, go for it – it will add nice freshness to your salad.
By the way, this salad is a big meal. You will have plenty on your plate if you follow my measurements below – so you can certainly cut things in half if you are looking for a quick/small lunch!
Vegan Taco Salad with Homemade Beef Crumbles
What you’ll need:
FOR BEEF CRUMBLE
- 1 10 oz package of tempeh
- 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon tamari sauce
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (or any oil you like; you can also skip if on oil-free diet)
- 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
FOR SERVING (per serving)
- 8-10 tortilla chips
- 1/2 cup diced plum (Roma) tomatoes
- 1-2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
- 1 tablespoon vegan sour cream
- 1/4 cup diced avocados
- 1/4 cup canned black beans
- 1/2 cup beef crumbles (recipe above)
- freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
What you’ll do:
- Check your tempeh to figure out whether the tempeh can be used as is, or does it need to boiled first – some do! If boiled, let the tempeh cool for couple of minutes. Using a fork, crumble the tempeh by pulling it apart until the size of crumbles resembles what you may usually see in taco filling. Set aside.
- Chop the walnuts to about the same size as your tempeh crumbles. My tip for keeping the costs down when making something like this is to by walnut pieces, not halves, since they tend to be cheaper!
- Place a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil, and the spices – cumin and chili powder and smoked paprika. Let them toast for 1 minute, then add the walnuts and let them roast for 2-3 minutes, until slightly browned. Mix in the tempeh and let caramelize for few minutes, 3-5 minutes should be sufficient. Add the tomato paste and cocoa powder, mix well and let the flavors develop over medium heat for another 5-10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let cool for 15 minutes or so.
- To assemble the salad, start with a large heap of shredded iceberg lettuce (or other type of shreds like kale shreds or romain), top with chopped tomatoes, black beans, taco “meat”, avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, lime juice and olive oil (if using). Dig in!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019