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FOOD | Vegan Mexican Fiesta Recipes

As a soy-free vegan, sometimes it’s hard to find good recipes that taste like the comfort food I grew up with. These recipes are not only good for you; they’re so tasty that you will forget that it’s healthy (except maybe the cocktails) — and in my book, that’s a good thing.

The “ground beef” in this recipe can be used anywhere you might have used actual ground cow before. For example, to make it work for Italian dishes, switch out the chipotle and chili powder and use basil, oregano  and a little garlic salt instead.

This “meat” can also be frozen, so make a double batch and have taco salad.

If you are corn-free, use large romaine lettuce leaves for a taco-shell, it’s tasty and will leave more room for margaritas and cilantro lime martinis!

(Image courtesy of Michele Kilmer)
(Image courtesy of Michele Kilmer)

Soy-Free Taco “Meat”


1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed, washed and dried, and broken into florets
2 cups raw walnut halves
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soy-free tamari

How It’s Done:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

2. In a food processor, process cauliflower, walnuts and tomato until completely minced. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add remaining ingredients. Using clean hands, knead mixture thoroughly until crumbles are well coated with seasonings.

3. Turn mixture onto cookie sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour 15 minutes, stirring after 30 minutes and then every 15 to 20 minutes after that, until the crumbles are dry and browned. Serve warm or store in refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in freezer for longer.

(A Campanil illustration)
(A Campanil illustration)

Form the tacos as you normally would, and enjoy!


How it’s Done

This is more of a throw-it-together-with-whatever-you-have-on-hand kind of recipe. Be casual with it.

1. Soak cashews over night in water.

2. In a blender or food processor add all ingredients together and blend. If you want to keep it thick leave as is, or you can add water or plain almond milk to thin it out a bit.


My other favorite thing to do with this taco “meat” is to make my mothers 1970’s version of a taco salad. I’m not sure it can be classified as Mexican food but trust me, you will not be disappointed.

I know, I know, Catalina dressing sounds crazy, but trust me, it’s delightful. If you’re like me and just cannot bring yourself to buy dressing in a bottle, (because it’s so easy to make and that stuff in the store is full of unrecognizable ingredients) try this recipe.


How it’s Done:

1. Place first six ingredients in a food processor or blender (or use a handheld blender) and process until smooth.

2. Add the oil in a steady stream with the machine running until the mixture comes together in an emulsion.

3. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve immediately.

5. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

*If you are using onion powder instead of chopped onion, you could also whisk it in a bowl while the oil is being slowly added, or shake it up in a jar with a tightly sealed lid.

(Image courtesy of Michele Kilmer)
(Image courtesy of Michele Kilmer)

Best Damn Margaritas

And last but not least, cocktails. Respect the cocktail — DO NOT use mixes. For one, they taste terrible, and for another, drinks are always, always, always better made from scratch. Love yourself and do it right!


fresh squeezed lime
fresh squeezed lemon
best damn tequila you can afford (and YES, it makes a difference!)
simple syrup or Cointreau (optional for those of you who need it sweet)

How it’s Done:

1. Depending on quantity, generally the ratio of lime to lemon should be at least 2-1, and that’s in liquid quantity, not number of limes to lemons. Of course, this recipe can be done with no lemon; it’s the lime that makes a margarita authentic. Do yourself a favor and buy a good citrus extractor. It’s not just the juice that matters here; the oils contained in the rind are crucial!

2. If you like a heavy pour, (and who doesn’t) this is a 5 to 7-count amount of tequila per cocktail or per amount of the juice mix in step one. If you’re still using a shot glass to measure alcohol, STOP! Just count it out (4 count = 1 heavy shot).

3. If you need the edge taken off the tequila and juice, a 2 to 3 count of sweet will do—if you really like it sweet do equal parts tequila and syrup/Cointreau.

4. Shake it all up with ice and just for fun, serve it border-style (no ice in a chilled martini glass).

5. Before pouring dip one side of the glasses edge into lime juice then dip in salt.

Now for those of you who, like me, don’t do tequila (or as we call it at my house Ta-Kill-Ya) this is another fantastic option for taco night.


How it’s Done:

1. Juice of 1-3 limes.

2. Take the spent limes and muddle it together with a few stalks of cilantro.

3. Add equal part vodka to lime juice (obviously).

4. Add syrup or sugar to taste. (Powdered sugar makes this look like your drinking from a cloud — heavenly!)

5. Shake vigorously with ice.

6. Serve in a chilled martini glass.

The taco “meat” recipe has been adapted from

My wife, Angela Kilmer, made up the Cashew Cheese on the fly.

The Catalina dressing recipe was adapted from