Two high-protein foods team up to make a tasty walnut and tempeh taco filling. A cousin to vegan burger crumbles, this recipe goes a long way, so you may be lucky enough to wind up with leftovers. Use them to boost protein and add texture to bean dishes and stews. Or, you can freeze half of the yield for a future taco dinner.
Soft tacos can be made with flour or corn tortillas. Or, you’re welcome to use crispy taco shells. Unlike in quesadillas (after all, the name is derived from queso, which means cheese in Spanish), cheese doesn’t have to be an ingredient in soft tacos.
And like fajitas, this is very much of an assemble-at-the-table kind of meal — the only real work (and it’s not much work, really) is to make the hot filling. Everything else goes on the table and everyone makes their own, embellishing to personal taste.
This filling makes enough for 8 large or 12 or more small soft tacos; or 4 to 6 generous servings. Honestly, one of these babies is usually enough to fill me up! Tacos using this filling plus the embellishments suggested following the recipe box are pretty much a meal in themselves, but it never hurts to add a steamed green vegetable or baked sweet potatoes.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium-large onion, chopped
- 1 medium red or green bell pepper
- 8-ounce package tempeh, any variety
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 15- to 16-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon good-quality chili powder
- 2 teaspoons BBQ seasoning blend (like smoky maple or mesquite)
- Salt to taste
- Picante or sriracha sauce to taste, optional (see note)
- Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the bell pepper and continue to sauté until the onion is lightly browned.
- Cut the block of tempeh into 10 or 12 chunks. Place in a food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse on and off a few times. Add the walnut pieces and onion and pepper mixture, pulse on and off until everything is finely and evenly chopped. Be careful not to over-process — you don’t want this to turn into a puree.
- Transfer the mixture to the skillet and stir in with the onion-bell pepper mixture. Add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Stir together, bring to a simmer, then allow to cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minute to allow the flavors to heighten and blend.
- Serve straight from the skillet or transfer to a serving container, allowing everyone to construct their own soft tacos using the embellishments suggested following the recipe box.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 400 Total Fat: 22g Trans Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 148mg Carbohydrates: 26g Fiber: 10g Sugar: 46g Protein: 17g
Soft Tacos are easy to make, messy and fun to eat
To make soft tacos, start with corn tortillas or small wheat tortillas (soft taco size). It’s particularly important to use good-quality tortillas for soft tacos, so consider looking for them in natural foods stores. Fresh, pliable whole-grain options make a big difference.
Bring refrigerated tortillas to room temperature, or warm them by wrapping in foil and placing in an oven set at 250º F. Then follow these easy steps:
Arrange the filling down the center of each tortilla, being careful not to overfill.
Embellish with any or all of the items listed below, arranging them in separate small bowls. No need to include all of them, but must-haves, in my opinion, are the first four.
- Shredded lettuce
- Finely diced or thinly sliced tomatoes
- Peeled and diced avocado
- Vegan sour cream
- Vegan cheddar or pepper jack shreds
- Picante or other hot sauce
Eat out of hand for a sensual, if sometimes messy deliciousness, or use a fork and knife, if need be.
Recipe adapted from Plant Power by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.