Vegetarian Taco Salad
This Vegetarian Taco Salad has lentils, tomatoes olives, and avocado, and this plant-based taco salad is loaded with flavor. If you don’t want to bother with cooking lentils, see tips in the recipe to make a meatless taco salad using canned beans.
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. And then one day when my vegetarian brother Rand was visiting, I had the idea to turn the lentil tacos into a taco salad with lentils.
And 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. This is a delicious option for a side dish or main dish salad with Mexican flavors whether you’re a full-time vegetarian or just trying to eat more plant-based meals.
You can add the optional cheese and Ranch dressing if you prefer, or this taco salad will be vegan without those, and it will still be delicious. Today I’m reminding you about this favorite recipe for my Friday Favorites pick, and if you’re cooking a big Mexican meal this is a salad idea that even the meat-eaters will enjoy!
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- brown lentils (affiliate link)
- cherry tomatoes
- can of black olives
- green onions
- fresh-squeezed lime juice, I used my (fresh-frozen lime juice)
- Romaine or Iceberg lettuce
- Olive Oil (affiliate link)
- red onion
- diced green chiles (affiliate link) (not jalapenos, unless you really like it spicy)
- ground cumin (affiliate link)
- Kalyn’s Taco Seasoning
- Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link)
- vegetable stock or canned vegetable broth
What other beans can you use for vegetarian taco salad?
If you want to skip the step of having to cook lentils for this taco salad recipe, just substitute one 15 ounce can of black beans or pinto beans for the lentils.
How can you make this vegetarian taco salad recipe lower in carbs?
If you want a plant-based taco salad that’s a bit lower in carbs, just user fewer lentils or beans for this recipe.
What makes this meatless taco salad so delicious?
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. And if you substitute canned beans for the cooked lentils, I would still season those beans using the same method.
Can this vegetarian taco salad recipe be vegan?
If you skip the optional Ranch dressing and grated cheese, this taco salad will be vegan.
How to Make Vegetarian Taco Salad:
(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)
- Cook lentils in 6 cups water until they are softened but not falling apart; drain well. (Or rinse and drain one can of black beans or pinto beans if you prefer.)
- In frying pan, heat olive oil and cook chopped onion for a few minutes. Then add green chiles, ground cumin, and Kalyn’s Taco Seasoning and cook about 2 minutes more.
- Add lentils, 2 T of Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link) or other hot sauce, and stock, broth, or water and simmer until the liquid has evaporated. (Don’t skip this step, which flavors the lentils.)
- As soon as 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, 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 Dinners or Lunches:
- Seven Layer Dip Tostadas
- Cauliflower Rice and Pinto Bean Burrito Bowl
- Easy Low-Carb Guacamole Tostadas
- Tofu Tacos
- Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives
- 1 1/2 cups brown lentils (see notes)
- 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 Iceberg 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. (Or rinse and drain one can of black beans or pinto beans if you prefer.)
- 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.
If you want to skip the step of cooking lentils, just use one 15 oz. can black beans or pinto beans for this recipe.
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: 339Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 2.7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16.4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 760mgCarbohydrates: 35gFiber: 14gSugar: 7.5gProtein: 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 Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This meatless taco salad recipe was first posted in 2013. It was last updated with more information in 2023.