Homemade vegan tacos – and more!


By Tim O’Connor

“Hey, Tim,” no one ever asked, “how do you make a vegan meat substitute in a scratch kitchen that doesn’t buy processed food?”

Well, I’ll tell you how I did it in our kitchen, which puts out vegan dishes daily as part of our diverse menu, including tacos.

First came texture. I knew to use a nut, so I chose walnuts, with rolled oats for added texture. I pureed these and got a dry substance. Would cooked white beans give me the stick that fat gives meat? They did.

For moisture, I grated zucchini, because it has a lot of liquid and not much flavour. I put all of this in a food processor and got a paste, from which I’ve created vegan “meat” in various forms.

To make vegan sausages, I wrapped the paste in Saran Wrap and steamed it. They can later be reheated.

If you want a vegan “ground beef,” bake the paste on a pan and, once cooled, purée until crumbly. You can refrigerate and use later in tacos or anywhere that ground meat usually goes. Just reheat it in an oven.

Be creative. I’ve not done this yet, but if you form a patty and wrap it tightly in Saran Wrap and steam it, you should have a tasty vegan burger to make your meat-eating friends jealous.

It’s a product I’ve not stopped finding uses for – vegan sausages, tacos, empanadas. It would be great for Shepherd’s Pie and such. I’ve made bratwurst, or I go another route for Italian flavours with a bit of tomato added. Spices and flavouring can take a sausage to any part of the world.

The joy of this is that the cooked paste has the consistency of meat and adsorbs flavour. Also, it’s been kid tested. One of our cooks took it home and made an empanada for his young son, and it was a big hit.


Tim O’Connor grew up in the Glebe and is head chef at Flora Hall Brewing.


Vegan meat base

1/2 cup walnuts

1 cup uncooked rolled oats

1 1/2 cups cooked white navy beans

1 small zucchini, grated


Purée walnuts and oats in food processor, put aside in a bowl.

Purée beans and zucchini and fold the two mixtures together.

For sausage, roll paste in plastic wrap, steam in steamer or in oven for 30 minutes until firm. Remove wrap, cool and refrigerate until you’re ready to fry them in a cast iron pan or carefully on a grill.

For ground “meat,” spread paste on a pan and bake for 20 minutes at 375, flipping occasionally so it doesn’t burn. Cool and purée until crumbly. Reheat in oven when ready to eat.

Be creative with seasonings. Here’s one mixture. Add to vegan paste before cooking.


Seasoning mixture

1 tbsp onion powder

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp coriander seed

1/2 tsp fennel seed

1/4 tsp white pepper

2 tsp paprika

1 1/2 tbsp salt.

Delicious tacos made with homemade vegan meat substitute Photo: Flora Hall Brewing

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