Lent Recipe: Vegetarian Tacos

11 Mar

Lent is a terrific time to experiment with new vegetarian recipes, particularly if you’re not a big fan of the traditional once-weekly fish fry. It’s also a good excuse to finally give texturized vegetable protein (TVP) a whirl if you’ve been skiddish up to this point, because hey — it’s not like you were going to be eating real ground beef for that meal, anyway. 🙂


I miss Taco John’s.


Tacos are one of the most popular ways to enjoy TVP. Heck, if you’ve been paying attention to recent headlines, you know that even Taco Bell’s been “outed” as having added soy to their recipe for years. That’s because not only does it save you money, but also cuts down on that greasy, soggy, collapsing-shell-bottom issue that happens when you leave real-meat tacos assembled for longer than two seconds. No one wants a soppy taco, and these ones come out beautifully every time.

(Many thanks to my dear friend Zola, for jogging my memory that I’d never published real directions for TVP tacos on here, despite having photographed them months ago. Sometimes I need a gentle reminder. Or a swift kick in the pants.)


texturized vegetable protein
Dry TVP looks like kind of like Grape Nuts.


Prepare taco shells or tortillas according to package. Start by heating 2 tablespoons oil or butter in a deep skillet. Throw in 1 cup dry TVP and 2 tablespoons dry minced onion. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and stir-fry for 5 minutes.


Add cocoa powder and seasoning packet.


Once TVP has browned a little, add the contents of a taco seasoning packet (or your own preferred seasonings) and gradually add about 1-1/4 cups water or leftover black coffee.

Stir mixture over heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed and TVP is a uniform reddish-brown color.


Leftover coffee is magical. At least with TVP.


Assemble the finished tacos as usual (lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, etc.) like normal. Whatever you dig.


Looks good to me!


The greatest thing about these is that because they don’t come out greasy (and therefore don’t get soggy immediately), they’re absolutely a lifesaveer to make when you’ve got little kids who are obviously going to need help assembling theirs. You can make all of the tacos at the same time, stick them on a big tray, and then just carry the tray to the table knowing that the last one you eat won’t be a wet, greasy mess on the bottom like real-meat tacos would’ve been five minutes after you made them.  Hurrah! 🙂






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