RECIPE: No faux pas; these meatless tacos are tasty

This summer, we traveled to Austin, Texas, for a small family wedding. The most unexpected meal of the weekend, however, occurred at famed local eatery Torchy’s Tacos. There, our cheeky offspring thought they got away with murder (and swearing) by ordering limited-edition tacos called “The MoFaux.” My little linguists were so busy chanting the name that they didn’t notice the “faux” referenced plant-based protein. Watching my carnivores cheerfully enjoy vegan tacos inspired this Meatless Monday/Taco Tuesday recipe.

Like Torchy’s, I use Beyond Meat’s Beyond Beef for the protein. It’s stocked in the grocery store’s meat department, and it looks, cooks and tastes like hamburger, but with 35% less saturated fat than 80/20 ground beef. If you are not a fan of meat substitutes, you can use two cans of black beans or a similar amount of prepared lentils.

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Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

What makes these tacos completely craveable is the spicy-but-not-crazy-hot sauce. I use a diced serrano chile pepper, which delivers a kick without overwhelming the other ingredients. If you live on the edge of the Scoville scale, a habanero will provide the thrill you seek.

You know your favorite taco toppings; apply them liberally here. I served some tacos with avocado and pico de gallo (vegan) and others with a flurry of cotija cheese (vegetarian). Either way, there’s nothing fake about how great these tacos taste.

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Credit: Kellie Hynes

Credit: Kellie Hynes

Faux Tacaux
  • 1 pound plant-based hamburger substitute, such as Beyond Beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 serrano chile, stem and seeds removed, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 low-carbohydrate flour tortillas
  • Optional toppings: avocado, pico de gallo, cabbage, corn, red onion, green chiles, cilantro, cotija (if not vegan), Tajín
  • Heat a nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the “beef” and saute for 5 minutes, using a wooden spoon to stir frequently and break the “beef” into crumbles. Transfer the crumbles to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.
  • Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Saute the onion and serrano pepper until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic and cumin, if using. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds more.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, water, brown sugar and salt. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom. Add the “beef” crumbles and black beans. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the flavors combine and the beans are warmed. Place 1/3 cup “beef” mixture in each tortilla. Garnish with optional toppings. Makes 12 tacos.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per taco: 212 calories (percent of calories from fat, 31), 15 grams protein, 32 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 9 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 607 milligrams sodium.
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