Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Tacos

Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Tacos
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Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Tacos 

This vegan taco recipe includes a variety of taco toppings that are healthy, easy and designed for a crowd! Spicy red lentils and roasted cauliflower serve as the main ingredients, while homemade fresh tomato salsa, avocado crema, corn salsa, toasted pumpkin seeds and quick pickled red onions make this vegan taco bar the best vegan dinner option ever!

Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Street Tacos
Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Street Tacos

Vegan Recipes for Beginners: Start with Vegan Tacos 

When I’m making a vegan dinner for non-vegan guests, I frequently look to tacos as the best way to please the most people. Tacos are a no-brainer because everyone at the table can make their tacos, their way. I also find that they’re a great way to serve a vegan dinner without having the focus of the meal be that it’s vegan. Nobody flinches when you serve tacos with beans, fresh tomatoes, avocados, jalapenos and corn. Somehow that makes the fact that I swapped out pulled pork and cotija cheese for spicy red lentils and roasted cauliflower less daunting.   

Spicy Red Lentils: The Basis for My Vegan Street Tacos

If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ve seen these Spicy Red Lentils make an appearance more than once. They were one of the first dishes I mastered when I started cooking vegan at home and they’ve been a mainstay ever since. I use them in my burrito bowls, burritos, quesadillas and as a topping for my nachos.

Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Street Tacos
Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Street Tacos

Lentils are a healthy source of vegan protein, so you often see them in vegan recipes as a substitute for meat. There are a number of different types of lentils, each of which cooks and tastes a little different. For example, brown lentils have a rich, earthy flavor and are a popular ingredient in vegan stews, vegan meatballs and vegan meatloaf because they maintain their shape when cooked. I like red lentils for a recipe like this because they’re mild in flavor, cook quickly and become smooth and creamy when mashed. In these vegan tacos, they have a refried bean consistency. (1)

Forget the Cheese and Go for Roasted Cauliflower 

No, it doesn’t taste like cheese, but roasted cauliflower has a wonderful, nutty flavor that I could snack on alone. I like to toss it in a little bit of avocado oil and sprinkle on some chili powder and cumin for a Mexican-inspired flavor. 

You might not guess it from its bland-white color, but cauliflower packs a significant health punch. It’s low in calories, but offers up a lot of nutrients. (2) For example, cauliflower is a high-fiber food – one of the keys to a healthy gut. It’s also high in anti-oxidants and choline (and that’s good for your brain). (3)

Who knew street tacos could be so good for you?

Still Missing the Cheese? Try Avocado Crema

If you’re still missing cheese, I think that avocado crema is not to be missed. It’s creamy and offers up a ton of taste-bud pleasing flavors. I make it by mixing avocado with vegan mayonnaise (for the creamy consistency). Then I spike it with fresh lime juice (you can never go wrong with fresh lime juice) and a little bit of salt. The creamy, healthy fat of the avocado works to off-set the need for cheese.

Other Things to Add to Your Vegan Tacos

It’s a little extra work, but pickled onions are a must on my vegan taco bar. I use a quick pickling method and I make the pickled onions first so that they have time to sit while I’m preparing the other toppings. An hour is good, but any extra time you can give them makes them better. They offer up a zippy tang that makes everything else in your vegan taco just a little bit more lively! 

I’m also never one to pass up spicy jalapenos and this time I decided to mix them up with some yellow corn for a little sweet and spicy combination. I also love the color that fresh tomato salsa adds. Keep this topping really simple with chopped grape tomatoes, minced red onion and some finely chopped fresh cilantro, along with some salt and pepper. I also like sprinkling toasted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) over my vegan street tacos for just a touch of crunch and some added nutrition. 

And, finally, fresh limes. I’m such a fan of adding fresh lemon and lime to my dishes when serving. They just make everything better. For my vegan taco bar, I’ll wash 2-3 limes, quarter them and serve them along side the other toppings so that guests can add their own at the very end. 

Spicy Red Lentil & Roasted Cauliflower Vegan Taco Bar

This vegan taco recipe includes a variety of taco toppings that are healthy, easy and designed for a crowd! Spicy red lentils and roasted cauliflower serve as the main ingredients, while homemade fresh tomato salsa, avocado crema, corn salsa, toasted pumpkin seeds and quick pickled red onions make this vegan taco bar the best vegan dinner option ever! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword cauliflower tacos, lentil tacos, street tacos, taco bar, taco recipes, vegan taco
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 4 people

Ingredients

Quick Pickled Red Onions (*Do This First)

  • 1 medium red onion sliced thin
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp salt

Spicy Red Lentils (you can find the recipe here)

    Chili-Roasted Cauliflower

    • 2 heads cauliflower washed and broken into small florets
    • 1 tbsp avocado oil
    • 1/2 tbsp cumin
    • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp salt

    Avocado Crema

    • 2 ripe avocados
    • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
    • 1 lime, juice and zest
    • 1 tsp salt

    Corn Salsa

    • 1 28 oz can sweet yellow corn
    • 1/2 jalapeno deseeded and finely diced
    • 1 tbsp red onion finely diced
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • salt & pepper to taste

    Toasted Pepitas

    • 1 cup pepitas
    • 1 tsp grapeseed oil
    • flaky salt to taste

    Tomato Salsa with Fresh Cilantro

    • 2 cups grape tomatoes roughly chopped
    • 6-8 cilantro leaves julienned
    • 1 tbsp red onion finely diced
    • salt & pepper to taste

    Other Ingredients

    • corn tortillas
    • 1 bunch cilantro washed and torn
    • 1 jalapeno deseeded and sliced
    • 2-3 fresh limes washed and quartered

    Instructions

    Quick Pickled Onions

    1. Thin slice the red onion and pack into a glass mason jar, leaving about an inch at the top of the jar. 

    2. Bring the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over red onions until the onions are fully submerged. Allow to sit on the countertop for an hour. 

    3. After an hour, you can serve or put the lid on the red onions and refrigerate. The longer you allow them to sit, the stronger the pickled flavor. 

    Spicy Red Lentils (you can find the recipe here)

      Chili-Roasted Cauliflower

      1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

      2. Wash the cauliflower heads and break them into small, bite-sized florets. You want these to be small enough to fit into a street taco along with other ingredients. 

      3. Toss the cauliflower with the avocado oil and sprinkle on the cumin, chili powder and salt. 

      4. Spread the cauliflower out on two baking sheets (you want some space between pieces) and roast for ~30 minutes until browned, stopping to turn at 15 minutes. 

      Avocado Crema

      1. Combine the avocado, mayonnaise, lime juice and salt in a food processor and blend until smooth. Top with lime zest.

      Corn Salsa

      1. Combine the sweet corn, jalapeno, red onion, olive oil, salt & pepper in a small bowl. 

      Toasted Pepita Seeds

      1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

      2. Spread 1 cup of pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds) on a baking sheet and stir in 1 tsp avocado oil. 

      3. Spinkle with salt and roast until browned (about 6-8 minutes). Keep an eye on the seeds as they go from browned to burned very quickly. 

      4. Allow to cool on a clean paper towel to absorb any extra oil. 

      Tomato Salsa with Fresh Cilantro 

      1. Combine the tomatoes, cilantro, red onion and salt and pepper in a bowl.

      About Herbivore’s Kitchen

      Herbivore's Kitchen A Vegan Diet Blog for Beginners
      Herbivore’s Kitchen Creator: Kate Friedman

      Herbivore’s Kitchen is a blog run by me, a plant-based home chef and aspiring food photographer. I switched my and my family’s diet to a plant-based diet after learning about the health benefits of going vegan. Making this change has prompted a variety of food and holistic-lifestyle related questions that I explore through this blog. I talk about how to pick and prepare the most nutritious foods, to how to reduce waste at home, to how to live a more sustainable lifestyle while on the road. 


      Sources

      (1) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/lentils#nutrition

      (2) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower#section1.

      (3) https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower#section1.



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