Super Bowl

Vegan Lentil Walnut Tacos for Game Day (and Every Day After That)

January 22, 2015

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: Who says you need meat to make game day-worthy tacos? This vegan version is easy to make ahead (or make at the last minute), and it's accompanied with a cabbage slaw you'll want to eat on its own.

Shop the Story

Traditional tacos these are not. For one thing, they’re vegan. For another, once you've boiled the lentils, the filling requires no additional cooking at all -- not a single swirl in your skillet. It’s a delicious, easy-to-prepare crumble made from cooked and cooled lentils, ground walnuts, spices, and sun-dried tomatoes, and if you ask me, it’s a pretty ingenious plant-based spin on taco "meat." The crumble isn’t only good for tacos: It’s also great in stir-fries and breakfast scrambles, or sprinkled on top of salads.

These tacos are all about contrast: The crumbly taco mixture is topped with crispy, cooling red cabbage slaw. The slaw is a little sweet, a little spicy (thanks to chopped poblano chile and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes), and freshened with the additions of cilantro and lime juice. 

I love this dish because you can prepare most of it from your pantry and because it’ll help you to put your extra heads of CSA cabbage to use. I also love it because you can throw it together for a last-minute game day get-together or potluck, and even the pickiest meat eaters will be impressed by the bold flavors and texture. 

Easy Lentil Walnut Tacos with Cabbage Lime Slaw 

Serves 6

1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped, tightly packed oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
A few tablespoons water
2 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced and tightly packed
2 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced and tightly packed
2 scallions, light green and white parts only, chopped
1 poblano pepper, sliced in half crosswise, seeds removed, and finely diced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons agave or maple syrup
Dash red pepper flakes (or to taste)
8 corn taco shells or tortillas, warmed

See the full recipe (and save and print it here)

Photos by Bobbi Lin

Choosing RawGena's new book Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat is a thorough, relatable guide to incorporating raw and vegan foods into any diet. It's full of no-fuss recipes for every meal, which range from fully raw to mostly cooked, with plenty of snacks and desserts to keep everyone happy.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Stephanie G
    Stephanie G
  • Lisa
  • Nanda Devi Van Der Veen
    Nanda Devi Van Der Veen
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.


Stephanie G. September 5, 2017
These were delicious.
Lisa February 1, 2015
Wow what an innovative recipe! Thanks again Gena!
Nanda D. January 24, 2015
This looks amazing, and coming from someone who loves her meat, that is pretty impressive. Hope i can find some time to make this some day :)