Vegetarian Taco "Mince"

This meat-free mince has an incredibly rich flavour and crowd-pleasing texture. Kids will love it! Serve with all your favourite taco fillings.

The balance of ingredients means it feels hugely satisfying, while also delivering excellent nutrition. Soaking the lentils and walnuts before cooking helps speed up their cooking time and improves digestibility.


  • ½ cup red lentils
  • ¾ cup raw walnuts
  • 1 medium onion – finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • 200g Portobello or swiss brown mushrooms – finely diced
  • 2 rounded teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper


Place the lentils and the walnuts in separate bowls and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for at least two hours and up to 12 hours. Drain and rinse well. Dice the walnuts finely and set both aside until needed.

Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion for 8-10 minutes until tender and translucent. Add the garlic and carrot. Cook for a further few minutes. Add the mushrooms, cumin, garam masala, paprika and oregano. Cook for a few minutes before adding the walnuts, lentils, stock, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste and soy sauce.

Simmer for 30-35 minutes until the lentils are tender and the sauce has thickened. Add additional stock or some water if too much liquid has evaporated. Season well with sea salt and cracked black pepper.


Kelly Gibney is an Auckland based food writer, photographer and mum of two. She creates flavour-first wholefood recipes that are simple but delicious. You can find more of her recipes on her Blog or on Instagram. Her debut cookbook is called ‘Wholehearted’.