I was trying really hard to wait and post this for Taco Tuesday. But I got impatient because I have an extra fun recipe for you today so here we are on Taco Thursday? So today’s recipe: vegan taco pasta salad lettuce wraps.
I admit when I started making this I wasn’t 100% sure where this recipe was going to take me. It started out with me craving tacos. And if you’re been following awhile then you may have guessed that I’m not a huge fan of meat and follow more of a vegetarian, plant based lifestyle. So I’ve always wanted to try a lentil walnut “meat” and I figured this was the perfect time to try that out. And as things got cooking, I spied my Tresomega gluten free pasta. I entered a blogger recipe challenge with tresomega a couple months back and I already submitted my entree category recipe (pumpkin and butternut squash Mac and cheese cups) but I still needed an appetizer recipe to submit. Enter pasta salad. Who doesn’t like a good pasta salad? Especially when it’s been taco-ified! And then I went full circle with it and made them into lettuce taco wraps. And after that, everything just came together.
So backtrack a bit. I made this late at night a few days ago which is why the lighting is a bit…off in these first few pics. But I sent my best friend these pics while I was in the process of making this and she couldn’t stop drooling so I took that as my cue to include them in my blog post. So this first pic is of the lentil walnut meat mixture. And while we’re on the subject, let’s talk about that for a sec. Lentils and walnuts for a meat substitute? This combo actually worked so well. The texture actually turned out very similar to a meat filling. Just be careful to not over-process the mixture together so it doesn’t turn into a mush.
Moving right along to the finished product! I mean, not to toot my own horn but…toot too! Looks pretty amazing, if I do say so myself 😉 I let this “marinate” overnight but that is definitely not required. I just didn’t have all of the ingredients for my dressing so I had to wait until the next day to finish it up.
So the next day I may or may not have “borrowed” some avocado from work so I could make the avocado cilantro and lime dressing to pair with it. It added the perfect amount of tang and sweetness for some extra flavor dimension. Here’s a look at the salad in more natural lighting before it’s all dressed:
And here it is all dapper and dressed. Hello, gorgeous! I then proceeded to have an hour long photoshoot with my salad.
It was such a long photoshoot that my cat even came to investigate. Thankfully he approved lol
So to take this idea one step further, I made these into lettuce taco wraps for a sort of amuse-bouche/appetizer before the main course. And definitely best idea ever! The fresh lettuce paired with the savory filling and the tangy avocado dressing just complement each other so well. Yeah, this recipe is definitely a keeper. And that is why I am entering it into the tresomega blogger recipe challenge. Full details and recipe at the end of this post 🙂
Vegan taco pasta salad with avocado cilantro dressing
⁃ 1 can lentils, rinsed and drained
⁃ 1 cup walnuts
⁃ 1 can low sodium black beans
⁃ 1 tbsp olive oil
⁃ 1/2 of a white onion, diced
⁃ 1 can diced tomatoes with lime, cilantro, and green chiles, rinsed and drained
⁃ 1 tsp paprika
⁃ 1 tsp cumin
⁃ 1 tsp oregano
⁃ 1 tsp chili powder
⁃ 1 box @tresomeganutrition elbow pasta, cooked according to directions
⁃ 2 cups shredded lettuce of choice, not romaine
⁃ 1 cup @daiyafoods shredded cheddar
Avocado cilantro dressing
⁃ 1 avocado
⁃ 1 tbsp allulose, brown sugar, or agave
⁃ 1 tbsp lime juice
⁃ 1 tbsp cilantro
⁃ 1/2 cup water
⁃ Garlic, to taste
For the salad: place lentils in food processor and set aside. Get out a medium skillet and roast walnuts for a few minutes while stirring with a spoon. Add to blender along with 3/4 cup black beans and pulse. Do not completely blend because you want there to be some texture. Set aside. Get out a large skillet and combine olive oil and onion. Stir over medium heat until onions are translucent. Stir in tomatoes, spices, and remaining black beans. Mix in the lentil, walnut, black bean mixture and stir over medium heat for just a few minutes. Remove from heat. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in cooked pasta along with lettuce and cheese. Set aside.
For the dressing: blend ingredients in a food processor until smooth in consistency and drizzle over salad. Serve.
To serve: spoon into some large lettuce leaves, top with dressing, and enjoy!
**This recipe is being entered into a recipe contest and like the other recipe contests I have entered, I am required to use a specific ingredient from TresOmega Nutrition. I was sent their line of gluten free pastas (which you can now find at Sam’s Club here) as well as their coconut oil (which you can also find at Sam’s Club here). You can probably guess which ingredient I chose to use for this recipe but just in case you aren’t sure, I opted to use the gluten free pasta for this recipe.