Vegan Pecan-Meat Tacos on Gluten-Free Corn Tortillas

If you’re not on the social media video app TikTok you might not know Tabitha Brown. She calls herself “world’s favorite mom,” but she’s probably most known for her creative vegan recipes such as Pecan Meat and Carrot Bacon.

Brown’s recipes came to mind recently when I noticed the leftover holiday pecans on one of our pantry shelves. (I bake, sell and deliver small-batch, special-order homemade pies, and Candied Pecan is always one of the favorites.) I eventually decided I wanted to try to make Pecan Meat for tacos to see how it actually tastes.

To take my taco adventure a step further, I decided to make homemade corn tortillas from leftover pre-cooked white cornmeal we recently bought to make Mexican Hot Chocolate. (That was a grand cooking adventure of its own!)

The results of my efforts are pictured above, and they turned out far tastier than I first thought they would! To be 100 percent transparent, the Pecan Meat is vegan and the Corn Tortillas are gluten-free, since the cornmeal is gluten-free and water is the only added ingredient. After that, we didn’t exactly stick to vegan toppings, but you can make those individual calls yourself if you want to be entirely vegan and gluten-free.

The Pecan Meat in this recipe, which I culled together from several sources, is very tasty, especially atop the Corn Tortillas we are also sharing with you! We’ve never really made “fake meat” in the #FoodieScore kitchen before, but we’re always interested in a cooking experiment and know that several of our regular readers appreciate vegan-friendly recipes.

When making the meat from pecans, be sure you have enough liquid and that you grind up the pecans enough that there are no remaining chunks that will give you a crunch that won’t simulate meat effectively. Also be sure you select a liquid aminos or liquid smoke flavor you like. That will be key to establishing a meat-like taste.

For the tortillas, we used P.A.N. brand, which we bought at our local Wow Supermarket in Gastonia, North Carolina. Unlike our flour tortillas, we found the dough to be stickier, so we suggest forming the tortillas into discs with your hands instead of rolling them out. Of course, you can also use store-bought corn or flour tortillas if you want to make this much easier. As with all of our recipes you can adapt them to suit your tastes and needs.

We topped our tacos with shredded cheddar cheese (you can use vegan cheese if you like), mashed home-cooked pinto beans and green onions (also commonly called scallions). As a #FoodieScore Pro Tip, you can use plain Greek yogurt in lieu of sour cream, if you like that flavor and texture on your tacos! We buy Greek yogurt to make a two-ingredient homemade dough for pizza crusts and breadsticks, so we often have extra in the fridge.

These tacos were full of flavor and the textures really worked better than we thought they would. If I were blindfolded and weren’t told the meat was pecans and the tortillas were gluten free, I’m fairly certain I’d have no idea. If you’re looking for healthier or alternative meal options for Taco Tuesday or any night of the week, give this recipe a try and put your own spin on it!

Here’s how we made our Pecan Meat and Corn Tortillas.

Pecan Taco Meat

What You Need:

1 cup raw pecan halves or pieces (unshelled)

2 tablespoons cooking oil (your choice)

1/2 medium onion, diced (about half a cup)

2 tablespoons liquid smoke or liquid aminos (coconut aminos also okay)

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon oregano

What You Do:

1. Heat a skillet to medium, then add diced onions, smoke/aminos and all seasonings. Mix well, and cook until onion is translucent.

2. Add onion mixture and cup of pecans to food processor. (You can try a blender if you don’t have a food processor.) Pulse until the mixture is the consistency of cooked ground beef.

3. Return the mixture to a skillet and add water. Keep on warm until ready to serve with other toppings.

NOTES: This makes between a cup and a cup and a quarter of “Pecan Meat.” In lieu of the seasonings above, you can also make this easier by using a tablespoon of your preferred taco seasoning mix.

Corn Tortillas

What You Need:

2 cups pre-cooked white (or yellow) cornmeal (We used P.A.N. brand.)

2 cups water

What You Do:

1. Mix cornmeal and water in a large bowl until a soft but workable dough forms.

2. Cover bowl with a towel and let rest for 5 minutes.

3. Heat a skillet or griddle to medium-high. (A sprinkle of water on the surface will sizzle when it’s ready.)

4. Divide dough into 8 mostly-equal parts, and form each of the 8 parts into a mostly-flat disc.

5. Brown tortillas on both sides to desired doneness. Place in a tortilla warmer (or in another container) until ready to assemble tacos or other dish.

YIELD: The combination of the Pecan Meat and Corn Tortillas here is enough, along with your other taco toppings, to feed a family of four if each person eats two tortillas/tacos. Multiply recipes for a greater yield for more people.

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