Tempeh & Walnut Soft Taco Filling

Two nourishing high-protein foods team up in a tasty taco filling

Tempeh & Walnut Soft Taco Filling

Sample recipe from the excellent Plant Power Cookbook, by Nava Atlas, a basic but comprehensive vegan cooking primer for beginning or experienced cooks.

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Tacos, like quesadillas, don't necessarily need a formal recipe. Use this one as a starting point for your own creations.

Use leftover filling to boost protein and add texture to bean dishes and stews. Or freeze half of it for a future taco dinner.

Total prep & cook time: 30 minutes

Fills 8 large or 12 small soft tacos (4 – 6 generous servings)

Nutrition Data per Serving (2 large tacos): Calories: 400 with oil, 371 without oil; Total Fat, 28g with oil, 25g without oil; Protein: 17g; Carbs: 26g; Fiber: 10g; Sodium: 148mg


  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or 3 Tbsp vegetable broth or water
  • 1 medium-large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper, finely diced
  • One 8 ounce package tempeh
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • One 15 - 16 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp good quality chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt to taste
  • Picante or sriracha sauce to taste (optional)
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  1. Heat the oil, broth, or water in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the bell pepper and continue to sauté until the onion is lightly browned.
  2. Cut the block of tempeh into 10 or 12 chunks. Place in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add the walnut pieces and the onion and pepper mixture and pulse until everything is finely and evenly chopped. Be careful not to over process - you don't want this to turn into a puree.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the skillet. Add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Stir together, bring to a simmer, then allow the mixture to cook over low heat for 15 - 30 minutes so the flavors can heighten and blend.
  4. Serve straight from the skillet or transfer to a serving container, allowing everyone to construct individual soft tacos using the embellishments suggested on page 243 (shredded lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, vegan sour cream, grated vegan cheese, hot sauce - and avocados as shown in the picture).
  5. Note: If you'd like a milder flavor, omit the hot sauce in cooking and pass it at the table.
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Savvy Veg Recipe Tips:

To satisfy my personal taste, I added 2 cloves minced garlic to this recipe, adding them to the oil with the chopped red peppers, and used half the onion.

I also poached the block of tempeh for 20 minutes first, as it mellows the flavor. Again, that's my personal preference, and not necessary.

After I tasted the filling, I wished that I had also pre-soaked the walnuts in boiling water for 20 minutes to remove the bitter taste (works like a charm!). You could easily omit the walnuts, and add more tempeh if you prefer not to use nuts. The walnuts did add a nice crunchiness to the filling.

I didn't use my food processor, but instead chopped the tempeh and walnuts fine with my trusty chef's knife. That added more prep time, but gave me the rougher texture I wanted.

I also made my own tomato sauce by mixing a six ounce can of tomato paste with 1.5 cans of water, plus a little salt.

Tofu Recipe Ebook

I omitted the hot sauce altogether, and served the tacos with vegan sour cream, which I made from the recipe on pg 248 of Plant Power, immediately following the filling recipe (handy, yes!).

Tofu Sour Cream: Blend 1 pkg extra firm silken tofu (I use Morinu brand), 3 Tbsp non-dairy milk (I used almond milk), 2 tsp lemon juice and 1/4 tsp salt (or to taste).

In the Plant Power cookbook, this taco recipe comes with menu ideas (baked potatoes, smashed potatoes, kale salad) and other taco filling options, pointing to other recipes in the book (borracho beans, refried beans, steamed or sautéed veggies). Here are our suggestions:

To Go With or In Tacos:

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