This vegan seitan taco salad recipe is built on locally sourced summer produce including heirloom cherry tomatoes, butter lettuce, sweet organic corn, jalapeños, and pickled purple onion all dressed in a cilantro lime vinaigrette.
It’s the perfect summer taco salad recipe to show off the local bounty, so don’t be afraid to use what you have on hand like zucchini, squash, and chilies. In-season sweet corn is often sweet enough to be eaten raw, but you can also quickly sauté in olive oil with a pinch of sea salt to amp up the flavor. Just make sure you let it cool down before adding it to the salad.
In my neck of the woods, avocado isn’t local, but I find it adds richness and healthy fats, so I add it anyway. If you’re not vegan, you can also add a dollop of organic sour cream and a handful of queso fresco. Queso fresco is a great cheese to use during the hot summer months because it’s best added to light, fresh dishes. However, this salad is perfectly delicious without dairy.
Compared to tofu, seitan is a highly under utilized vegan protein. It’s super high in protein, containing 20 grams per serving. The Vegetarian Resource Group calls it “the other wheat meat” because it’s derived from the protein portion of wheat. Seitan’s slightly more meaty texture makes it the perfect addition to this farm fresh taco salad, but for some longtime vegetarians and vegans, it can be almost too meaty. You can make your own seitan, but for this recipe I chose to season up a prepared variety.
I’m a big fan of pickling the onions in this dish to make them a little less harsh and cut the avocado with some acidity. You can fast pickle the onions by covering them with raw apple cider vinegar and adding a teaspoon of sugar and a large pinch of salt. I usually let them pickle in the refrigerator for about an hour. The longer the better, but an hour is certainly enough.
Make your own tortilla chips for garnish by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil up to medium high and slicing a vegan tortilla four ways. Fry until golden brown and sprinkle with sea salt.
Vegan Seitan Taco Salad Recipe
1 package ground seitan (8 oz.)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 head local butter lettuce, ripped into leaves
1/2 cup pickled purple onions, thinly sliced
1 cup heirloom cherry or tear drop tomatoes, sliced in half
1 ear sweet corn, cut off the cob
1/4 jalapeño, slice thinly with no seeds or ribs
1/2 avocado, seed removed, sliced
Dressed lightly with cilantro lime vinaigrette (recipe to follow)
Garnish with homemade tortillas
1. Prepare seitan by heating olive oil up in a skillet over medium heat. Add in seitan, cumin, and chili powder. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cook for five minutes and set aside.
2. Add lettuce, onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, and jalapeño to a large bowl. Lightly dress with vinaigrette and plate up.
3. Top with seitan and avocado. Garnish with homemade tortilla chips.
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Makes 1/2 cup
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Combine ingredients with a whisk.
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Image: Sara Novak