You’re going to love this vegan lentil-walnut taco filling. Change the seasonings and you’ll find other ways to use this gluten-free ground meat substitute.

Tips for Lentil-Walnut Taco Filling

Pardina lentils

I like to start with petite brown lentils. My favorite variety is Pardina, also known as Spanish lentils. They work especially well in this recipe because they hold their shape when cooked which makes them easier to drain.

I like using my electric pressure cooker to make Instant Pot Lentils. They are also good cooked in a slow cooker or on the stove. Easy!. No matter how you cook them.

For this recipe, it’s important to thoroughly drain the lentils in order to get rid of excess moisture. The easiest way to do that is to drain them immediately after cooking.

To further reduce the moisture content, spread the cooked lentils out on two dinner plates or a baking sheet until cool.

cooked lentils

It also helps to cook the lentils ahead and refrigerate them so they are firmer.

Freeze extra cooked lentils in a zip-top bag to make them easier to measure out and defrost for the next time you want lentils in a hurry. Or double or triple the lentil-walnut taco filling and freeze for later. That’s cooking smarter, not harder. That’s what I call Cooking Forward.™ It’s such a time-saving strategy for creating quick and easy healthy meals.

My Secret Ingredient

mushroom powder

I like to add two tablespoons of mushroom powder to add extra flavor, umami, and to help absorb excess moisture.

I get shiitake mushroom powder from a local mushroom grower, Duckabush Mushrooms, that sells at the local farmers market.

dried mushrooms

If you don’t have mushroom powder, you can grind dried mushrooms into a fine powder with a blender or food processor.

And if you don’t have mushroom powder or dried mushrooms, you can omit it.

I tried making this taco filling with fresh mushrooms for added texture and flavor. But even with cooking them first, they added too much moisture and made a mushing taco filling–which I turned into chipotle mushroom burgers.

Serving Ideas

lentil-walnut tacos

  • Serve in Vegan Soft Tacos, lettuce wraps, or burritos.
  • Add to burrito bowls or enchiladas.
  • Serve with Cilantro-Lime Cabbage Slaw.

Variations

  • Lentil-Walnut Taco Filling with Toasted Walnuts: Toast walnuts before grinding.
  • Lentil-Sunflower Seed Taco Filling: For a nut-free version, substitute sunflower seeds for the walnuts.
  • Gluten-Free Ground Meat Substitute: Omit chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Use in spaghetti or cabbage rolls.

Another Lentil Recipe

lentil-walnut taco filling
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Lentil-Walnut Taco Filling

You're going to love this vegan lentil-walnut taco filling. Change the seasonings and you'll find other ways to use this gluten-free ground meat substitute.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: dairy-free, gluten-free, oil-free, plant-based, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, WFPB
Servings: 12
Calories: 106kcal
Author: Heather Reseck

Ingredients

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 tablespoon mushroom powder optional
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cups cooked brown lentils thoroughly drained

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 350°F. Place walnuts, mushroom powder, if desired, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and coriander in a food processor; process until walnuts are finely chopped.
  • Add 1 cup lentils and pulse several times. Add remaining lentils and pulse several times.
  • Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Bake until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir. If the mixture is too moist, bake until a slightly crumbly, yet still moist texture, about 10 minutes. Makes about 2 cups.

Notes

Serving Ideas:
  • Serve in Soft Tacos, lettuce wraps, or burritos.
  • Add to burrito bowls or enchiladas.
  • Serve with Cilantro-Lime Cabbage Slaw.
Variations:
  •  Lentil-Walnut Taco Filling with Toasted Walnuts: Toast walnuts before grinding.
  • Lentil-Sunflower Seed Taco Filling: For a nut-free version, substitute sunflower seeds for the walnuts.
  • Gluten-Free Ground Meat Substitute: Omit chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Use in spaghetti or cabbage rolls..
Tips:
  • The easiest way to thoroughly drain lentils is to drain them immediately after cooking. This is important in order to reduce excess moisture.
  • To further reduce the moisture content, spread cooked lentils out on two dinner plates or a baking sheet until cool. Freeze extra in a zip-top bag to make them easier to measure out and defrost.
  • This recipe works best with lentils that have been cooked ahead and refrigerated.
    • Petite brown lentils work especially well in this recipe because they have superior flavor and hold their shape when cooked which makes them easier to drain. One popular variety is Pardina, also known as Spanish petite brown lentils.
  • If you don’t have a food processor, grind the walnuts in a blender until finely ground. Or finely chop. Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Nutrition

Serving: 2.5tablespoons | Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 182mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 280IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 2mg