Chard Taco Salad with Walnut Meat

filed under: entrees · recipes · salad

Disclaimer: I received free samples of California Walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Tacos or mexican-inspired meals are a weekly staple in our house. Whenever I ask ideas for dinner, Greg usually replies with some kind of Mexican dish answer. He can’t get enough! Beans are usually the protein in our tacos or enchiladas, however today I thought I’d switch it up with another great protein source…California Walnuts!

The perfect vegan taco salad made with ground walnuts for a meaty texture.

Walnuts in a taco salad? Sounds weird, I know. But let me tell you…walnuts have an incredible meaty texture when lightly ground and taste divine with chili powder and cumin. Honestly, it’s SO easy to make vegan ground taco meat from walnuts – I even surprised myself!

I love walnuts in this taco salad because they’re so nutrient dense; offering (per ounce) 4g of protein, 2g of dietary fiber, and 2.5g of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. How about all that to keep you feeling full, nourished, and satiated?! Walnuts are a serious nutrient contender.

The perfect vegan taco salad made with ground walnuts for a meaty texture.

I mean, come on. You can’t deny that those ground walnuts even LOOK meaty in texture. They’re soft, but chewy, for a similar mouthfeel as ground beef or turkey. Of course, walnuts are still a high caloric food being a nut, so I recommend you stick to the recommended 1/4 cup serving.

The perfect vegan taco salad made with ground walnuts for a meaty texture.

To top the salad, I made a easy chili-lime greek yogurt dressing. But I’m telling you, there’s so much flavor in the walnut meat and sautéed vegetables, that you’d be just as happy eating this salad with just a squeeze of lime and dollop of guac.

The perfect vegan taco salad made with ground walnuts for a meaty texture.

Chard Taco Salad with Walnut ‘Meat’

Yield: Makes 2 servings


    For the Walnut Meat:
  • 1/2 cup California walnuts
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • For the Sautéed Vegetables:
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small sweet potato, chopped into 1" cubes, skin on
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced lengthwise and cut into 2" strips
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the Salad:
  • 2 large chard leaves, destemmed and roughly chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 Tablespoons cilantro, roughly chopped
  • For the Chili-Lime Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • Pinch of sea salt


  1. In a small food processor or blender, add the California walnuts, chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, and lime juice. Pulse on and off for about 30 seconds, until walnuts have combined with seasonings and are ground but still chunky. Set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and add the sweet potatoes. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking to the pan. When the sweet potatoes have absorbed much of the oil, add in the water and cover the pan with a lid. Bring heat to low and steam sweet potatoes about 2 minutes or until fork tender.
  3. Remove lid from skillet and add in the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and chili powder to the sweet potatoes. Stir to mix well and season with sea salt. Cook vegetables an additional 3-4 minutes, until peppers and onions are cooked but not mushy. Remove from heat but keep covered with a lid until ready to assemble salads.
  4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together greek yogurt, chili powder, salt, and lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  5. To assemble salads, divide the chopped chard into two medium bowls, and add 1/2 cup of brown rice to the side of the chard in the bowl. Add half of the sautéed vegetables to each bowl, and top with 1/4 cup of walnut 'meat'. Drizzle each bowl with a garnish of fresh lime juice and 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro. Serve with chili-lime dressing.

So what do you say, is walnut meat something you might try? I hope you’ll find it a delicious way to incorporate California walnuts into your eating pattern!

Check out the other great recipes using California Walnuts from fellow Recipe Redux members here: 

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xx Dianna