Vegetarian Taco Salad
This Vegetarian Taco Salad has lentils, tomatoes olives, and avocado, and this can easily be vegan if you skip the Ranch Dressing and cheese.
I guess I’m officially settled into the new house, because I had my first cooking session with my nephew/cooking assistant Jake, and we loved having the the new bigger kitchen so both of us have plenty of room to work. The new house also has big windows and great light for photos, but I found there’s almost too much light, and I’m going to have to do some experimenting to get the light filtered just right for food shots.
All those big windows are also going to make taking photos of the kitchen a bit of a challenge, but I promise some kitchen photos will be coming soon! The house still has quite a few boxes to get unpacked, but on Saturday my brother Rand and I hung pictures and arranged my collection of African art, so the house is starting to look like it’s mine.
This Vegetarian Taco Salad is a recipe I came up with after I had “lentil lettuce wrap tacos” on my to-cook list for months and months. I think it was the Thai-Inspired Turkey Larb Salad that gave me the idea to turn the lentil tacos into a lentil taco salad, but Rand, Jake, and I all gobbled this up, even though it came at the end of a day of recipe testing when none of us were overly hungry.
For this meatless recipe you can easily make the recipe vegan by skipping the Ranch Dressing and cheese, which we all agreed were completely optional. Please don’t skip the step of seasoning the lentils with green chiles, cumin, taco seasoning, and hot sauce, because the taco-flavored lentils is what makes this recipe so flavorful.
How to Make Vegetarian Taco Salad:
(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)
- Cook the lentils in 6 cups water until they are softened but not falling apart; drain well.
- In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and saute chopped onion for a few minutes. Then add green chiles, ground cumin, and Taco Seasoning and cook about 2 minutes more.
- Add the lentils, 2 T of Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link) or other hot sauce, and stock or water and simmer just until the liquid has evaporated. (Don’t skip this step, which flavors the lentils.)
- As soon as the liquid in the lentils has evaporated, turn off the heat and let lentils cool a little while you slice the green onions, olives, and tomatoes.
- Also chop the avocado and toss with lime juice.
- Coarsely chop enough romaine lettuce to make about 6 cups, then wash in salad spinner (affiliate link). Iceberg lettuce would also be great in this if you’re an iceberg taco salad fan.
- When you’re ready to toss the salad, it’s important to use a really big bowl so you can mix it up. Put the lettuce in the bowl and add the partly-cooled lentils over the lettuce.
- Then use your best salad tossing equipment to toss the lettuce with the lentils so the taco flavoring ingredients coat the lettuce. (This is what makes additional dressing optional in the salad.)
- Then add tomatoes, green onions, and olives and toss again.
- Serve salad immediately, with diced avocado (and optional Ranch Dressing and grated cheese if desired) to add at the table.
More Vegetarian Ideas for Dinner:
- 1 1/2 cups brown lentils
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- one 6 oz. can black olives
- 1/2 cup sliced green onions
- 1 avocados, diced (or more)
- 2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 6 cups chopped Romaine or lettuce
Lentil Seasoning Ingredients:
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles with juice (not jalapenos, unless you really like it spicy)
- 1 T ground cumin
- 1 T Kalyn’s Taco Seasoning (see notes)
- 2 T Green Tabasco Sauce (more or less to taste, see notes)
- 1/2 cup vegetable stock
- Put lentils, 6 cups water, and a little salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- When the water boils, reduce to a low simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. Drain lentils well.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the chopped red onion and saute for a few minutes, until the onion starts to soften.
- Then add the can of diced green chiles with juice, ground cumin, and Kalyn’s Taco Seasoning and saute about 2 minutes more.
- Add the lentils, Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link), and stock or water and simmer until the liquid has all evaporated (about 10 minutes.)
- Turn off the heat and let the lentils partly cool while you prep the other ingredients.
- While the lentils are cooling drain and slice the olives, cut tomatoes in half and slice the green onions.
- Dice the avocado into smallish pieces and toss with the lime juice.
- Coarsely chop the lettuce and wash/spin dry with salad spinner, or wash in the sink and dry with paper towels.
- To assemble the salad, place the lettuce in a very large bowl with plenty of room to toss the ingredients.
- Add the partly cooled lentils on top of the lettuce and toss well, so the spicy taco flavoring is coating quite a few of the lettuce pieces.
- Add sliced olives, tomatoes, and sliced green onions and toss again.
- Serve salad right away, with diced avocados (and Ranch Dressing and/or grated cheese if desired) to add at the table as desired.
Use your favorite purchased taco seasoning if you prefer. If you don't have Green Tabasco Sauce, use any hot sauce you prefer.
Nutritional information doesn't include optional Ranch Dressing or grated cheese.
Recipe created by Kalyn.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 368Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 797mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 15gSugar: 14gProtein: 11g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
All the low-glycemic ingredients in Vegetarian Taco Salad are a great choice for any phase of the original South Beach Diet. Lentils are a limited food for Phase One but if you stick with the recommended serving size you can eat this for Phase One. (If you use the optional Ranch Dressing and cheese, South Beach would recommend reduced fat varieties.) This is too high in carbs for traditional low-carb diets.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.