Meatless Monday: Big Fat Vegan Taco Salad

Gluten-Free, Main Courses, Meatless, Salad, Vegan / Monday, April 9th, 2012

I love a big, nasty, restaurant-style taco salad. The kind that’s stuffed inside a crispy tortilla bowl with a mountain of guacamole, sour cream and cheese on top.

Are you feeling me on this?

But if I ate one every time I had a craving, my butt would be the size of a national park. Deer and antelopes would roam my hillsides.

So, I’ve been satisfying those cravings with a Big Fat Vegan Taco Salad.

It sounds a little naked, but trust me on this.

We’re talking shredded lettuce topped with black beans, fresh salsa, crumbled baked tortilla chips, cilantro (unless you hate it) and a quarter-cup of guacamame.

The guacamame is a riff on guacamole made with avocado and edamame, plus tomato, red onion, cilantro (unless you want it to die) and lime juice. It’s thick and creamy, like regular guacamole, but it has way less fat. And it’s still really good with chips.

The whole salad is just 350 calories and 6 grams of fat, but it’s loaded with flavor, and there’s plenty of room for variations. You could add a layer of grilled onion and peppers. Fresh corn salsa. Pinto beans. And, if you’re not looking for a vegan meal, you can always add some shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt.

This recipe calls for making your own quick salsa as well as the guacamame, but if you want to make this a five-minute meal, pick up a container of fresh salsa and some Trader Joe’s Guacamole Hummus. They’ll keep the deer and the antelopes away.

Big Fat Vegan Taco Salad

Adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s “Appetite for Reduction”

Makes 4 servings

  • 4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 recipe Fresh Tomato Salsa Dressing (recipe follows) OR your choice fresh salsa
  • 4 ounces low-fat baked tortilla chips (regular or gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 4 servings Guacamame (about 1 cup, recipe follows) OR a packaged guacamole hummus
  1. Divide the salad among four big bowls.
  2. First, place the lettuce in each bowl, then layer on the black beans and salsa.
  3. Crumble on the tortilla chips, and top with cilantro, if using. Serve with Guacamame on the side.

Per Serving (1/4 recipe): 350 calories, 6g fat, 59g carbs, 16g fiber, 17g protein

Fresh Tomato Salsa Dressing

Serves 4

  • 1 pound tomatoes (about 3 medium)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Chop the tomatoes finely, and place them in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, and use your hands to mush everything up really well. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Chill in an airtight container until ready to use, up to 5 days.

Per Serving (1/2 cup): 25 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs, 1g fiber, 1g protein


Make sure to thaw your edamame in the fridge for 12 hours before making this recipe, or thaw it in the microwave or by running it under warm water.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 4 ounces sliced avocado
  • 1 cup frozen edamame, completely thawed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (optional)
  • Pinch of cayenne, for spiciness (optional)
  1. Place the avocado and edamame in a food processor. Pulse until everything is well chopped.
  2. Add the water, salt, and lime juice, and puree until relatively smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula.
  3. Add the tomato, red onion, cilantro, and cayenne (if using), and pulse to combine.
  4. Transfer to a bowl, taste, and adjust flavors, if necessary. Serve ASAP.

Per Serving (1/4 cup): 60 calories, 4g fat, 5g carbs, 3g fiber, 3g protein

Note: To keep Guacamame from browning, throw the avocado pit into the ‘mame, drizzle with extra lime juice, and place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the mixture. Cover tightly, and refrigerate.

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