Crunchy or soft, spicy or mild, simple or fully loaded, tacos are a big hit with most families. Who doesn’t look forward to taco night? We often think of a basic taco as having meat and cheese, perhaps topped with shredded lettuce and maybe a bit of salsa. This is a winning combination for sure.
Now think outside of the shell (or wrap) for a moment. If roasted vegetables and walnuts replaced the meat, would it still be a taco? The answer is yes! Not only is a meatless taco delicious and healthy but it can be a great way to get in more vegetables. Now that the meat options in our local grocery stores are limited and expensive, this might be the perfect time to try out a meatless taco.
Have – It – Your – Way Meatless Tacos
Recipe adapted from North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission:
The basic idea is to fill a crunchy taco shell or a whole grain flour tortilla with delicious roasted vegetables and plant protein and then to top it all off with fresh cilantro, jalapenos, shredded lettuce or cabbage and anything else that sounds good!
The shell or holder:
8 whole grain tortillas OR crunchy taco shells
2 large sweet potatoes (peeled and diced into small cubes)
3 cups cauliflower florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 – 15 ½ ounce can black beans, drained OR ¾ cup walnut pieces (roasted or lightly browned in skillet OR 1-cup veggie “meat” crumbles
The toppings: choose one or all (or come up with your own topping ideas)
Freshly snipped cilantro
Thinly sliced fresh jalapeno
Extra thinly sliced cabbage
Shredded cheddar, mozzarella or vegan cheese
Fresh lime to squeeze over everything
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place cauliflower and sweet potatoes in a large mixing bowl.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and season with chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss well until vegetables are well - coated.
4. Spread the vegetables onto a large sheet pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Add the black beans, walnuts OR veggie “meat” crumbles to the sheet pan and roast for an additional five minutes.
6. Place a generous amount of the roasted veggie mixture onto each tortilla (or if using taco shells, fill each shell with the mixture).
7. Top with fresh cilantro, jalapenos, etc.
HINT: If using whole grain tortillas, try heating each one in a skillet with a small amount of olive oil or avocado oil prior to filling it.
Written by Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN
Dietitian, Duke Pediatrics Healthy Lifestyles Program