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  • Karen Buch RDN, LDN

Taco Night Goes VEGAN!

I wanted to share my first attempt at VEGAN Taco Tuesday! The recipe was developed by the California Walnut Board. I was inspired to try making it in my own home kitchen after reading the recipe in Food & Nutrition Magazine. The ingredients that I used were all things that I had on hand and I was able to get dinner on the table in about 30 minutes.

I started by cutting up what I would call a large head of cauliflower (see photo of the ingredients). The recipe calls for a 'small' head, but--I'm not sure I've ever seen a small head of cauliflower~have you? LOL

After tossing with EVOO, I spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet (lined with Reynold's Release Aluminum Foil) in a single layer to roast in a 475-degree F oven. While it was roasting, I started chopping the onion and jalapeno pepper and peeling about 4 cloves of fresh garlic. After sauteing the onion for about 5 minutes, I added the pepper and pressed the garlic. Next I added the spices and a quarter cup of tomato puree (note the recipe calls for tomato paste--but I just used what I had on hand).

After 25 minutes of roasting, my cauliflower was lightly browned. I slid it from the baking sheet into a medium mixing bowl and used a hand blender to chop to a "meaty" texture. Meanwhile, I reduced the oven temp to 350-degree F and re-used the foil lined baking sheet to roast a cup of coarsely chopped walnuts for about 5 minutes. Once the nuts turned a golden brown, I added them to my skillet along with a half cup of orange juice (I used juice in place of the water to promote caramelization in the final moments in the skillet). I can't get over how flavorful and "meaty" this meatless dish turned out to be. I was thrilled to get a thumbs up from my whole family! The best part about going meatless is being able to make a meal that has zero saturated fat and plenty of omega-3s.

Did you know walnuts are prebiotics and help to promote gut health? Plus, walnuts are a excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). A one-ounce serving of California walnuts supplies 2.5 g ALA omega-3s. ALA is the precursor or parent to two important long-chain fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexainoic acid).

Many consumers are looking for ways to get more "good fats" into their diet from foods like avocados, extra virgin olive oil, salmon and walnuts. This recipe is a good place to start! #walnuts4goodhealth #teamgoodfats #tacotuesday #vegan #meatlessmonday #FNTestKitchen

Disclosure: I learned about the health benefits of walnuts at a sponsored conference and received a sample of walnuts.

Roasted Walnut and Cauliflower “Meat”

Serves 6


  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped

  • 1 cup California walnut pieces, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • ¾ cup onion, minced

  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced

  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded, minced

  • ½ cup water (or orange juice--my substitution)

  • ¼ cup tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground

  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried

  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 475ºF.

  2. Coat cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, place on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and toast walnuts for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add to pan with cauliflower. Optional: Cauliflower mixture may be pulsed in a food processor to resemble the texture of ground meat.

  4. Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

  5. Add garlic and jalapeño and cook for 2 minutes more.

  6. Stir in water (or juice), tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt; cook until mixture is thick and excess water has cooked off.

  7. Stir in cauliflower mixture.


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