We’re not vegetarians, though Hallie would tell you otherwise. But most days, especially during the hurried weekday dinner hustle, we eat a vegetarian diet, leaning on quick-cooking pantry staples to pull off dinner. I had to figure out a meatless swap for our favorite crunchy, meaty tacos in order to keep it in the regular dinner rotation. With the help of quinoa, black beans, and a little ketchup (just trust me), I give you vegetarian taco “meat.”
What’s in Vegetarian Taco “Meat”?
Usually once during this meal I say in shock, and very deliberately, “These are so good!” And they are. This vegetarian taco “meat” is made with a mixture of cooked quinoa, black beans, taco seasoning (made from individual spices in my spice cabinet), and a generous squeeze of ketchup. I know ketchup sounds weird, but it’s the best trick I learned from my mother-in-law to add a touch of tomatoey sweetness.
The combination of black beans and quinoa carries the protein while also creating a toothsome texture similar to what you’d expect of taco meat.
Spicy, salty, and slightly sweet. Dinner from the pantry. Ready in under 30 minutes. Vegetarian taco “meat” is the trifecta.
Vegetarian taco “meat” made from pantry staples—quinoa and black beans. It’s a tiny bit on the sweet side from the ketchup, but when combined with everything, it’s so excellent. This is just a recipe for the filling. Add seasonal toppings to your hearts desire!
3/4 c. quinoa
1 1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
15 oz. can BPA-free black beans, drained and rinsed
scant 1/4 c. organic ketchup
3 tbsp. water
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
Sriracha, to taste
In a saucepan, combine quinoa, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or until water is absorbed.
Remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. If you have taco seasoning on hand, forgo the individual spices and add 2 1/4 tsp. taco seasoning. Heat for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat. Taste and adjust seasonings. More than likely, you’ll need a bit more salt and heat. Serve in hard or soft taco shells and top as you wish.
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My kids ate it well. I enjoyed it too. Trying to eat less meat in our home and still serve the family the traditions they love – like Taco Tuesday. This recipe much like rice and beans but it’s quinoa and beans. Thanks for another plant-based option!
I’m so glad you guys liked it! My 7-year-old loves these too! (And so do the adults over here.)
I’ve been eating veg for almost three years now – and can always use new, simple and tasty recipes. Thank you so much for sharing! x
So curious – what are the 24 spices you keep in your pantry? I’m sorting mine today and so embarrassed at how many expired spices I’m culling given that both my grocery stores have spice in bulk…..So curious what a minimalist spice list includes.
Sorry for the delay! Just took a picture of them so I could type them out. Here’s what we have: cinnamon, cardamom, parsley (rarely use), ginger, curry powder, paprika, whole nutmeg, rosemary, bay leaves, oregano, chili powder, red pepper flakes, basil, cilantro, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cumin, coriander, thyme, cayenne pepper, lemon pepper. Maybe the two most surprising things I don’t keep: onion or garlic powder. I cook with a lot of onions and use fresh garlic. In the summer months I usually use a lot of fresh herbs. During the winter, I’ll often buy rosemary, thyme, or sage from the store. Let me know if any other questions pop up!
Walt and I made these last week and they were delicious!
now i think i understand better why i enjoy everything you post and blog about so much. it’s the minimalism in you. and i can’t wait to try these tacos… hallie approved (and therefore, not too spicy for kids?!)?
What brand lemon pepper did you use?
I’m not quite sure. Sorry! I started with Archer Farms for their glass jars but have filled with other brands.
Just downloaded that podcast to listen to on my next drive around town for errands! It’s so hard to keep things minimalist with kids, but I am trying. Black bean quinoa tacos are going on the “dinners to make” list. 🙂 Yay for simple and delicious!
I love the taco “meat” part of these.. They look incredible! Thanks for turning me on to a new podcast!
I feel that same way between Christmas and New Years too: “throw it all away, I’m suffocating!”
Thanks for this taco recipe — can’t wait to try it out.
I can’t wait to listen to this episode! I’m saving it when I have a block of time when I’m not pulling my toddler off of whatever he’s climbing. I need lessons on letting things (stuff!) go. Also, this is going to get thrown into the dinner rotation ASAP.
Those look delicious! I am excited about using more quinoa!
I listened to the podcast and I just love you more now. YES to minimalism. Too much stuff makes me anxious, too! Loved your tip on keep those spices in check. Can’t wait to try these tacos, Melissa. And bravo on the prettiest taco pic ever, that last one has me starry-eyed!
I can’t wait to give this episode a listen. I’m an aspiring minimalist, but I keep getting in my own way. Ah well.
i know what you mean by too much stuff suffocating you. i tend to throw away things, esp paper mail, i cant stand it. the idea of vegetarian taco sounds wonderful. i havent listened any of their podcast but i will today on my way home 🙂
I feel the same exact way 🙂 My husband is a keeper, he keeps ALL the things, so it’s been a work in progress to prevent myself from throwing/getting rid of anything excess. I prefer to call it the ‘just moved in with a few things up’ decor style!
That’s so hard when a decision involves two people. I like your term—the just moved in look. We’re still sporting it over here!
I’m not naturally a minimalist, but I am working on it because I know I do better with less stuff cluttering up my life. I get that impulse after Christmas, too – which has lead to mass declutterings and redecoratings in our house every year! Will definitely give this a listen 🙂
I LOVE A Couple Cooks’ podcast and I can’t wait to listen to this one! Also the fact that this takes less than 30 minutes is making me smile because I love tacos and any way to get them to the table faster is an automatic win.
Amen! Hope you enjoy it!
Ahh, it was such fun to collaborate on this podcast! We absolutely loved what you brought to the table on minimalism, and we’re now all inspired to be minimalist in 2016! ALSO–can I update our 10 simple weeknight meals with an addendum to add these tacos? (I’m serious.)
Thanks for affirming my quirks! I had so so much fun doing this. And yes, of course!