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I’ve eaten this raw taco salad almost every day for the last two weeks.
And that’s a big deal for me, because normally if eat the same thing more than four days in a row I never want to eat it again. Ever.
But not this delicious concoction.
I could eat it over and over and over and over and over and over again.
In fact, I have.
It’s slightly different every time, but it’s always delicious, and very satisfying. Even on cold autumn days.
Which is surprising, because it’s full of “salad-y” ingredients, and HEAPS of greens.
But so long as I stick to the recipe, I never feel like I’m eating a salad. Cool. (Or in fact, warm, not cool.)
Once you’ve made the walnut taco meat and the cashew sour cream, it’s so easy to throw together on the spot.
First, you get yourself a big bowl of greens.
I’m really enjoying my raw taco salad with salad rocket (aka roquette or arugula), but Paul really enjoys his with baby spinach, so it’s really a very flexible recipe.
Then you chuck on a generous handful of raw walnut taco meat.
Throw on some chopped avocado and tomato.
Drizzle your creation with cashew sour cream, and garnish with spring onion, or whatever else you feel inspired to add.
What a masterpiece.
I just grab myself a big forkful of greens, and snag some tasty toppings as I go.
One of the other things love about this recipe, is that you end up with a big pile of chunky, creamy toppings…
…to which you just add more greens!
You could eat them on their own, but I really think they taste better with an extra handful (or two) of greens.
I can’t believe how much rocket I’m eating, and on really cold days too.
And I always feel full and satisfied afterwards, like I’ve eaten the heartiest winter meal.
Raw Taco Salad recipe
Make sure to read the tips below the recipe to get the most out of this amazing Raw Taco Salad recipe.
Raw Taco Salad
Walnut Taco Meat (4 serves)
Cashew Sour Cream (12 serves)
Salad (1 serve)
- 3 cups rocket / arugula (60g)
- 1/4 cup Walnut Taco Meat (see above)
- 1/2 med avocado , diced
- 1 med tomato , diced
- 1 tbsp Cashew Sour Cream (see above)
- 1 tbsp spring onion , sliced
- Cover the sun-dried tomatoes in water and leave to soak for 2 to 8 hours. Drain.
- Process all of the walnut taco meat ingredients in a food processor until well combined, but still chunky.
- Blend all of the cashew sour cream ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy.
- Assemble salad ingredients in a large bowl (one per person), serve and eat.
- Before: 2-8 hours (optional, to pre-soak sun-dried tomatoes and cashews)
- During: 30 mins
- After: -
- Need: Blender, food processor
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- You don’t need to pre-soak your walnuts for this recipe. And in fact if you do, they might break up too much and create the wrong texture. If you’re concerned about the enzyme inhibitors in raw walnuts, used activated walnuts instead (soaked and re-dried nuts).
- If you want to make your own activated walnuts, soak them for 8-12 hours, and then dehydrate them for 12-24 hours. This helps to release the nutrients in the nuts.
- If your sun-dried tomatoes are in oil, you probably won’t need to soak them, as they’ll already be soft enough to process properly.
- If your sun-dried tomatoes are dry (my favourite way to buy them because of the lower oil content), you really need to soak them a minimum of 2 hours to get them soft enough to break up properly. But you can also soak them for longer and it certainly won’t hurt. For instance, you could start them soaking before you leave for work, and then you’re ready to make your taco meat as soon as you get home. And if you’re concerned about leaving your tomatoes soaking on the bench for that long, you can always soak them in the fridge instead. They will still get just as soft.
- The combination of walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes really, truly creates a texture like minced (ground) meat. You won’t believe it until you try it, but then you will be amazed!
- I haven’t tried using fresh minced garlic in this recipe, but if you don’t have any garlic powder handy, I’m sure it would work pretty well. Just make sure it’s finely minced and use even less than the powder, because the flavour will be a lot stronger. I’d suggest starting with 1/16 to 1/8 tsp.
- I love using Himalayan pink salt in my recipes, not because I can taste the difference but because it always feels so special. Of course, it’s also less processed than table salt and contains trace amounts of a bunch of minerals, so it’s extra good for you too.
- I found 1/4 tsp of salt in the walnut taco meat too much for my taste buds, so I added less. Start with 1/8 tsp if you don’t like things too salty, and then adjust it to suit your taste buds.
- I seriously reduced the chili powder and cayenne from the original recipe because we don’t like things too hot in this house. Feel free to add more, especially chili, until it satisfies your taste buds.
- The taco meat should keep in the fridge for about a week (although ours never lasts that long).
- If you don’t pre-soak your cashews, the sour cream will thicken up quite a bit after a few hours in the fridge, so take this into account when adjusting the amount of water. Pre-soaking isn’t necessary, but it can help to make a smoother sour cream, especially if you don’t have a high-speed blender.
- I like to use fresh lemon juice in my recipes, and I am lucky enough that my next-door-neighbour has a huge tree that’s always bursting with lemons. If you don’t have access to fresh lemon juice, then bottled lemon juice will also work fine.
- If you don’t want to use lemon juice, you could use apple cider vinegar instead. I would start with about the half the amount of lemon juice (that is, around 25g or 5 tsp) so that the sour cream doesn’t turn out too tangy and then adjust it to taste.
- The ice in the sour cream recipe helps to keep the sour cream cold while you blend it thoroughly. Without the ice, your sour cream may overheat before it is blended sufficiently, especially in a high-speed blender.
- The cashew sour cream should keep in the fridge for up to a week.
- Warning: This salad is really addictive, so if you find yourself eating it day-in and day-out for the foreseeable future, don’t blame me!
- You can make this raw taco salad with any leafy green vegetable that you want to try, including lettuce, endive, spinach or kale. You could also try dandelion greens, watercress, silverbeet/chard, mustard greens or even microgreens. So long as it’s green and leafy, it’s good! I love rocket, Paul loves spinach, and romaine/cos lettuce works well too. Try your favourite green and let me know how it goes.
- You could also top your salad with chopped red onion, sliced mushrooms, diced red capsicum, marinated veggies, fresh salsa, pico de gallo, chopped coriander/cilantro, flax crackers, corn chips. The possibilities really are endless, but it doesn’t need to be complicated or fiddly. Just throw together your favourites and you’re set.
- If you’re into smoky tastes, you could add a little smoked paprika, smoky chipotle mix or pepper sauce to the walnut meat to add a bit of extra flavour. You can amp up the flavour of the taco meat by adding in onion powder, dried oregano, lime juice or your favourite taco seasoning blend.
- You can use this taco meat in lots of different ways too, not just in this salad. Use it in soft or crunchy tacos, rolled in lettuce leaves, seaweed wraps or in your favourite plant-based Mexican dish. One of my readers even had it with some fresh mango!
- If you don’t have any walnuts on hand, you can definitely substitute pecans for the taco meat. The flavours of walnuts and pecans are very similar.
- If you process the walnut taco meat for longer, you can turn it into a smooth spread/dip that’s great on bread or with chopped veggie sticks.
- You can add your favourite herbs and spices to the cashew sour cream to make it more like a ranch dressing.
- You can use almost any nut as the base for the cashew sour cream, including macadamias, brazil nuts, almonds or even sunflower seeds. Each will have a slightly different flavour, so keep trying until you find one that you love.
- If you want to add even more protein and fibre to this recipe, you could add in some cooked beans, like black beans, pinto beans or even chick peas / garbanzo beans. Of course, the raw taco salad wouldn’t be entirely raw any more, but I’m sure it would still be amazing.
Here’s roughly how much this raw taco salad cost me to make:
|Taco Meat (4 serves)|
|Walnuts||150g||$40 / kg||$6.00|
|Sun-dried tomatoes||50g||$30 / kg||$1.50|
|Cumin powder||1g (1/2 tsp)||$70 / kg||$0.07|
|Garlic powder||1g (1/2 tsp)||$124 / kg||$0.12|
|Chili powder||0.1g (pinch)||$80 / kg||$0.01|
|Cayenne||0.1g (pinch)||0.4c / L||$0.00|
|SUBTOTAL||202g||$38.17 / kg||$7.71|
|Cashew Sour Cream (12 serves)|
|Cashews||140g||$35 / kg||$4.90|
|Lemon juice||55g (1 small)||$10 / kg||$1.00|
|Salt||0.5g (1/4 tsp)||$10 / kg||$0.01|
|Water||85g||0.4c / L||$0.00|
|Ice||95g||0.4c / L||$0.00|
|SUBTOTAL||376g||$15.72 / kg||$5.91|
|Salad (1 serve)|
|Rocket||60g (3 cups)||$20 / kg||$1.20|
|Taco Meat*||50g||$38.71 / kg||$1.94|
|Avocado||100g (1/2 med)||$5 each||$2.50|
|Tomato||130g (1 med)||$15 / kg||$1.95|
|Cashew Sour Cream*||30g||$15.72 / kg||$0.47|
|Spring onion||5g||$3 / bunch (300g)||$0.05|
|TOTAL (1 serve)||375g||$21.62 / kg||$8.11|
- All prices are in Australian dollars
- Your costs may vary quite a bit depending on whether you buy in small or large quantities, as conventional or organic, and the time of year.
Note: I’ve calculated the costs for the entire batch of taco meat and cashew sour cream, and for one serve of the salad, so keep that in mind when you’re looking at the figures.
Reducing the cost of this recipe
- There’s not really one particular ingredient that adds the most to the overall cost of one serve of this raw taco salad, but if you do want to reduce the costs, look for less expensive avocados and tomatoes, which you should be able to do when they’re in season near you. I wouldn’t recommend leaving them out, because they both add something important to the whole recipe.
- You could also see if you can find cheaper walnuts and cashews, because that will bring down the cost of the taco meat and the sour cream respectively.
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Can I make the taco meat in a blender instead of a food processor?
You can use a blender to make the taco meat if you don’t have access to a food processor, but the texture will be a little different.
It tends to come out a little smoother and “pastier” when you use your blender, so just try to pulse it at low speed if your blender can cope with that, until it’s just chopped and combined and no more.
If your meat ends up being a bit too smooth, try crumbling the resulting “meat” by hand onto your salad, to see if you can get it a bit closer to the processor version.
You could also try soaking your sun-dried tomatoes a little less, to see if that keep the texture a bit chunkier.
But the taco meat definitely comes out more like “meat” in a processor, so if you can get your hands on one, then I definitely recommend doing it that way.
Can I use vinegar instead of lemon juice?
Yes, you definitely can.
To make sure that the sour cream doesn’t turn out too “sour”, start with half as much vinegar as lemon juice (about 25ml) and see if that creates the right flavour balance.
If not, just tweak the amount it until it suits your taste buds.
You could probably use any kind of vinegar, but for maximum health benefits, I’d recommend apple cider vinegar. And if you use raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother), you’re also adding valuable probiotics.
Other vinegars would also be fine, but you’ll need to adjust the amount to suit the strength and flavour profile of your specific type of vinegar.
I was looking for raw dishes with added spice, to help get my digestion moving, and I happened across this Layered Raw Taco Salad from Oh She Glows.
And then I discovered this walnut taco meat recipe with added sun-dried tomatoes at The Naked Avocado and once I toned down the spices, I was all set.
The softened soaked sun-dried tomatoes do add something very special to this recipe, giving the mix a sticky consistency, which makes it even more like minced beef. But “meat” aside, it also tastes fantastic.
I only used a pinch of chili, because we’re not big fans of even slightly hot & spicy dishes, and it still tasted awesome.
I tried both the raw macadamia sour cream and the raw cashew sour cream recipes, and although both were delicious, I decided that I prefer the cashew version in the interests of keeping my fat intake on the (slightly) lower side.
I also made “avocado frog dip” with my 9yo, which is basically a kind of guacamole – avocado, tomato, macadamia or cashew sour cream & lemon juice.
I did also make the quick guacamole once, but it’s actually just SO much faster (and still just as tasty in my opinion) to chop up a whole avocado.
And I substituted a chopped fresh tomato for the salsa. This dish would be even more delicious with fresh cherry tomatoes in summer.
And the assembly? Fresh roquette (arugula), walnut taco meat, avocado dip (or guacamole or chopped avocado), chopped tomatoes, macadamia or cashews sour cream, and chopped spring (green) onions.
I almost couldn’t eat it all, it was so filling.
Good stuff :)
Here’s a great list of the top leafy green vegetables if you’re looking for more inspiration for a salad base:
- The 13 Healthiest Leafy Green Vegetables @ Healthline
Here’s a list of the best toppings to put on your taco salad, just in case you needed even more ideas:
- The Best Taco Toppings @ Ranker.com
And some simple and tasty recipes for fresh salsa / pico de gallo:
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