Vibrant raw tacos use walnuts for the taco meat. They pop with flavor. Serve them on romaine lettuce leaves in lieu of a tortilla. Ready in less than 15 minutes. Vegan & gluten free.
When I lived in Los Angeles, I had a standing solo date at SunCafé in Studio City. It’s a phenomenal raw restaurant where they serve up jicama nachos, raw supreme pizzas, cashew kale shakes, and raw tacos.
You’ve got to love the wizardry of raw food that takes salad ingredients and turns them into comfort food.
I’d tuck in for a meal. Then I’d trot over to Griffith Park for a hike to my favorite overlook in Southern California.
People sometimes complain that after a vegetable-based lunch they are hungry in no time. But when raw food doesn’t shy away from fat, it’s satiating, filling, and energizing – even for a hilly hike.
Raw options where I live now are on the slim side. But luckily, it’s fast and easy to make raw tacos at home. It just takes some chopping, a few pulses in a food processor, and lunch is ready.
Raw tacos pop with all of the flavors you already know & love from traditional tacos.
There’s cumin, ancho chili powder, and the bright taste of tomato. Then they’re finished with sliced avocado or a dollop of guacamole.
They’re like tacos meets salad. (Not to be confused with a taco salad. Different thing.)
I especially love raw tacos in the summer months, because I don’t have to turn on the stove. They’re ready in about 15 minutes. And they feel nice & light when it’s muggy outside.
The taco meat in these raw tacos is made with walnuts and an assortment of spices.
Surprisingly, walnuts really work as a taco filling. They can stand up to bold spices. And the filling gets a sticky, tomato-y flavor from sun-dried tomatoes.
What type of sun-dried tomatoes should I use?
For the sun-dried tomatoes, you can use oil-packed, bagged, or the kind that you rehydrate first.
I like the raw taco meat best with oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, because it makes the filling stickier and with a stronger punch of flavor. However, if you’re avoiding oil, rehydrated or bagged sun-dried tomatoes will also work.
(At Trader Joe’s in addition to oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, they have oil-free sun-dried tomatoes that are fully hydrated in a re-sealable bag.)
How to make raw tacos
Start by putting all of the following into a food processor:
- Sun-dried tomatoes (re-hydrated in water first, if you are using dehydrated tomatoes)
- Ancho chili powder
- Onion Powder
Pulse or combine on low in the food processor until the walnut mixture has a crumbly, sticky texture. Stop & scrape down the sides while you combine, so that everything is evenly chopped.
Be careful not to over blend. You don’t want to turn it into walnut butter.
Now it’s time to make your tacos!
For the shells, choose from any of the following:
- Romaine leaves
- Cabbage leaves
- Collard leaves (with the hard center rib removed)
Fill each taco with any of the following:
- A smattering of walnut taco meat
- Diced bell pepper
- Sliced green onion
- Diced tomato
- Pickled jalapeño slices
- Sliced olives
- Avocado or easy guacamole
- Cashew queso
In addition to being great on raw tacos, add this walnut taco meat to your vegan nacho bar as well!
Raw tacos with walnut taco filling
- 1 cup walnuts unsalted
- 2 Tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes oil-packed or rehydrated dried tomatoes*
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- ¼ teaspoon ancho chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- Pinch salt
- 4 to 6 romaine leaves or , collard, cabbage, or iceberg lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry**
- 1 tomato chopped
- 1 red bell pepper or orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 2 green onions sliced
- Optional: Jalapeno slices, sliced olives, guacamole, or avocado
- To make the walnut meat, process the walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, tamari, ancho chili powder, paprika, onion powder, coriander, cumin, and salt in a food processor until crumbled into small pieces. Take time to stop and scrape down the sides, if necessary, as you process. The mixture should be sticky and crumbly in the fingers. You don't want to blend until it's walnut butter.
- Fill each romaine leaf (or leaf of your choice) with a scoop of walnut taco filling, chopped tomatoes, and red bell pepper. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. If using, add any optional ingredients on top.
Originally posted February 2012. Content, recipe, and photos updated August 2019.