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Sheet Pan Cauliflower Taco “Meat” Recipe

Looking for a plant-based taco recipe that doesn’t involve ultra-processed fake meat?  Me too!  I am really over all the fake meat products.  But I also understand that sometimes swapping cauliflower for meat is not going to cut it in terms of satiety.  This mixture of cauliflower rice, hemp seeds and finely chopped nuts + the perfect seasoning blend is satisfying and totally flavorful.  It passed the test with Mr. Picky who can eat practically the entire sheet pan himself!

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • It’s quick and easy;
  • Plant-based;
  • Has a great balance of protein, fat and fiber;
  • Super flavorful! 

Cauliflower Taco “Meat” Ingredients

  • Cauliflower: one of my favorite cruciferous vegetables! If you don’t have a whole head of cauliflower, you can use cauliflower florets or riced cauliflower. 
  • Red onion or shallot: adds the best flavor to everything! (Omit if you can’t eat alliums.)
  • Hemp seeds: have a nutty flavor and can be eaten raw. They are a great source of plant-based protein. May also be labeled hemp hearts. 
  • Pecans: I like to use raw pecans in this recipe because they provide a nice crunch. Feel free to  use walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds instead.
  • Chili powder: is considered a spice blend made from a variety of ground dried chiles. Most chili powders will also include other spices such as cumin, oregano, paprika, garlic and/or onion powder. The taste will vary across brands. 
  • Ground cumin: is an earthy and warm spice that is used in a lot of Mexican recipes. 
  • Paprika: is made from dried ground sweet bell peppers. Regular paprika is not spicy at all. 
  • Garlic powder: is made from dehydrated garlic. Adds a subtle garlic flavor. 
  • Onion powder: is dried ground onion. 
  • Dried oregano: I love the herbal aroma in my taco seasoning.
  • Olive oil: look for an unrefined olive oil or use avocado oil instead. 

How to Make Cauliflower Taco “Meat”

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F or 400 F convection.  Line a half sheet pan with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor fitted with the metal s blade. Pulse a couple times until it resembles rice. You should have about 4 cups of riced cauliflower. Extra riced cauliflower can be saved for another use.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the riced cauliflower with all of the remaining ingredients except for the suggested accompaniments, until well combined. Place on the sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, toss with a wooden spoon and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until browned. Don’t over cook!
  4. Use just like you would cooked taco meat and serve with desired accompaniments. Leftovers are good in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Tips for Making Cauliflower Taco “Meat”

  • Use a higher temp – to dry out excess moisture, which helps make foods crispy. Using convection also works, but drop the temp by 25 degrees.  Definitely use convection if you cook more than one sheet pan in the oven.
  • Don’t chop the nuts too small or use nut meal, otherwise you risk the mixture burning.
  • Feel free to swap in a premade taco seasoning that you like if you’re short on time.
  • This mixture is also great at room temp on a taco salad.

Substitutions for Cauliflower Taco “Meat” 

  • Cauliflower: I’m sure you can use another riced vegetable such as riced sweet potato, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, or carrots. 
  • Onion: omit or try using green onions
  • Pecans: use walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds

If you give this recipe a try, snap a pic and tag @pamelasalzman so I can see your beautiful creations. I also really appreciate readers taking the time to leave a rating and review! Lastly, subscribe for free to my site for the latest recipes and updates.

For more delicious recipes, check out my monthly online cooking classes and I would love to have you in either of my bootcamps next week!  Raising Healthy Eaters begins Tuesday, May 3 and Entertaining with Ease begins Wednesday. May 4.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Sheet Pan Cauliflower Taco "Meat"
Author: 
Serves: 3-4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 small head of cauliflower, broken into florets, about 1 pound
  • ¼ small red onion or 1 large shallot, diced
  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika (regular, sweet paprika)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin oil
  • Suggested accompaniments: tortillas, lettuce leaf, pickled onions, cilantro, lime, salsa.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees or 400 F degrees convection. Line a half sheet pan with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor fitted with the metal S blade. Pulse a couple times until it resembles rice. You should have about 4 cups of riced cauliflower. Extra riced cauliflower can be saved for another use.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the riced cauliflower with all of the remaining ingredients except for the suggested accompaniments, until well combined. Place on the sheet pan and spread into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, bring the mixture on the edges of the pan to the center and the center to the outside and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until browned.
  4. Use just like you would cooked taco meat and serve with desired accompaniments. Leftovers are good in the fridge for up to 5 days.

 

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Comments

6 Comments

  1. This recipe is outstanding! I served it with all of the usual tacos fixings and we all loved it. I had a side of ground beef just in case someone wanted to have both. Everyone wanted seconds of the cauliflower concoction! I didn’t make any changes to the recipe and chose chopped pecans as the nut of choice. This recipe will be made again and again. Thank you, Pamela!

    • Yay!! I’m thrilled to hear that 🙂

  2. If you use sunflower seeds due to a nut allergy, do you need to chop the sunflower seeds, or can you leave them while?

    • *whole! Sorry — autocorrect fail.

    • You can leave them whole or pulse them if you want them to be less noticeable. It’ll turn out great either way!

  3. Amazing dish!


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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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