An easy and healthy Vegan Taco Salad. Made with a lentil/walnut taco meat, black beans, cherry tomatoes, and avocado and dressed with creamy avocado salsa for a wholesome, plant-based, gluten-free meal.
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Growing up my family would often have taco salad night. We would get taco bowls and load them up with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. It’s hard to imagine now, but I loved taco salad night.
Needless to say, much has changed since childhood taco nights. For instance, rather than being the child, I am now the parent. My hair is grayer, my responsibilities greater, but perhaps most notably are that my eating habits are greener.
And so, today, I bring back the taco salad with a healthy twist – vegan taco salad 2.0. The base of this salad is romaine lettuce. It is topped with lentil/walnut taco meat (so good!) beans, tomatoes, avocado, and crispy corn tortillas and tossed with a creamy avocado salsa dressing.
Recommended Ingredients & Equipment
Unlike the taco salads of my youth, this vegan taco salad is filled with fresh and wholesome ingredients. It’s light, refreshing, and good for you!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Romaine Lettuce – This is my lettuce of choice for this recipe but any lettuce will do.
- Black Beans – 1 (15) oz can or 3/4 cup dried beans
- Cherry Tomatoes – Sub any kind of tomato here in needed
- Corn Tortillas – or Tortilla Chips
- Oil – I recommend coconut or avocado oil.
- Salsa – Store bought or homemade.
- Lentils – Either brown or green
- Spices – Chili powder, cumin, and salt
Check out the full list of my recommended kitchen tools and gadgets.
How to Make Vegan Taco Salad
Step One – Make Walnut Taco Meat
First cook the lentils in boiling water. Cook until the lentils are soft and all the water has absorbed.
While the lentils are cooking, sauté onions and garlic until they are sweet, tender, and fragrant. Add spices and chopped walnuts and sauté for another 5 minutes, until the walnuts are lightly toasted.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor along with the cooked lentils and pulse a few times until a beef-like texture has formed.
Pro Tip: While this taco meat recipe is just enough for the vegan taco salad, I highly recommend doubling the batch. I almost always have a batch of this in my refrigerator. It keeps for up to 5 days and is the perfect protein to add to a salad, mix with quinoa, or serve over vegetables.
Step Two – Make the Dressing
This salad dressing is creamy, zesty, and so simple to throw together.
To make the dressing, place the avocado, salsa, salt, and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth, adding water if necessary, until you have a creamy, pourable consistency.
Pro Tip: Because salsa can vary so much in taste and texture, this dressing recipe will require some adjustment. Add water slowly, as needed.
It’s important to note that since the dressing is avocado based, it won’t say fresh for very long; it will start to brown within 30 minutes. If you are making this salad ahead of time, I recommend NOT prepping the dressing until you are ready to serve.
Step Three – Assemble the Salad
Once the walnut taco meat and salad dressing are made, this salad is super simple to throw together.
To assemble, start with a base of chopped Romain lettuce. Add walnut taco meat, black beans, tomatoes, avocados, and fried tortillas or tortilla chips. Toss with creamy avocado dressing and serve immediately.
Serving and Storing
Serve this salad within an hour of assembling it. When you are ready to eat, toss it with the dressing and enjoy immediately This makes a great on-the-go lunch. Layer it in a salad jar and pack the dressing separately.
Store leftover salad in the refrigerator for up to one day. Leftover taco meat can be stored separately for up to 5 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you want to make this salad in advance, the best way to do that is to make the components and store them separately in the refrigerator. However, I don’t recommend making the dressing until you are ready to serve.
For sure! For a lentil-free version, check out my lentil-free walnut taco meat.
More Vegan Salad Recipes
- Creamy Vegan Potato Salad
- Vegan Pasta Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
- Vegan Spring Quinoa Salad
- Tempeh Tuna Salad
- Peanut Noodle Salad
- Zucchini Noodles with Pesto.
Vegan Taco Salad
- Cook the lentils according to package instructions.
- While lentils are cooking, heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a medium cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and fragrant.
- Add salt, chili, and cumin and stir to coat. Stir in walnuts and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes until walnuts are slightly toasted. Transfer walnut/onion mixture to a food processor. Add cooked lentils and pulse a few times until a beef-like texture has formed. Set aside.
- To make the avocado salsa dressing, place 1 avocado, salsa, 1/2 tsp salt, and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. If it's too thick, add a little water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have a creamy, pourable consistency. Taste and adjust salt and lime as needed.
- In a small frying pan, heat up the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Once hot, add corn tortillas and fry until golden and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from heat, dab off excess oil with a paper towel and cut into thin strips.
- Cube the other avocado.
- In a large salad bowl combine chopped Romain, lentil/walnut taco meat, black beans, tomatoes, the other half of the avocado, and tortilla strips. Toss with avocado salsa dressing and serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The salad should be served within 3 hours.