This recipe was originally published in May 2018. It has been updated for content and photos.
It’s pretty amazing how cauliflower can become so much more than just a plain ole veggie.
This versatile vegetable works so well in tons of different dishes, like these vegan meat crumbles, my cauliflower buffalo wings and these incredible vegan wraps with Asian slaw and cauliflower rice. Cauliflower can also make great rice, pizza, and so much more! For even more cauliflower inspo, check out these 32 stunning vegan cauliflower recipes.
So what’s to love about this veggie ground meat?
- It’s healthy! Now I realize healthy is a very subjective term, but there’s no denying that this veggie ground meat is highly nutritious. It’s loaded with vegetables like cauliflower, carrots and mushrooms. Plus it has a healthy dose of protein from pumpkin seeds.
- Low in calories. Like most recipes on the blog, I strive to make delicious meals that are low or lower in calories than their traditional version. These vegan meat crumbles not only fit the bill, but this recipe is EXCEPTIONALLY low in calories at under 100 calories per serving. So there’s no guilt in going for seconds, or even thirds!
- Loved by vegans and omnivores alike. I make this veggie ground meat very often, for both vegans and omnivores, and everyone always enjoys! Many people don’t even realize it’s vegan, especially when served in a wrap with all the fixings! Now to be clear, I’m not saying it tastes like meat, because it doesn’t. BUT this veggie ground meat is an incredible substitute.
- Feeds a crowd. It’s amazing how much filling you’ll get from this vegan ground meat recipe, and since it keeps well in the fridge, you can have leftovers to eat the next day. Or it’s perfect for a small or large gathering, think taco bar for your next event!
- Allergen friendly. This veggie ground meat recipe is not only meat, egg and dairy free, but it’s also nut free, soy free, gluten free, oil free and corn free. So no matter your dietary preference or allergies, this is a wonderful option for all.
How to make veggie ground meat
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Gather all your ingredients.
Peel your carrots and break your cauliflower into large florets. Don’t worry about uniform size pieces since everything will get shredded anyhow.
Add your pumpkin seeds and sun dried tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until crumbly, without over processing. (photos 1-2)
Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and set aside. (photo 3)
Next, you will process or shred your vegetables. I use my Veggie Bullet to shred the veggies directly into my deep, nonstick skillet. (photos 4-5)
If you do not have a veggie bullet or similar shredding tool, you may use your food processor. Just remember, we’re making veggie ground, and want it crumbly, not pureed so DO NOT over process.
Work in smaller batches if needed, depending on the size of your food processor. Then transfer each batch to your skillet as you go.
Mix the veggies well and cook them over medium high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. (photos 6-7)
You want to cook the veggies until soft and mostly cooked through, about 8 minutes or so.
NOTE: Use a deep rimmed, non stick skillet or pot. You will not need oil or water at this point, as the veggies will produce their own liquid as they cook.
Then add all the seasoning, the water and the pumpkin seed and sun dried tomato mixture to the pot. (photo 8)
Mix well and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes to meld the flavours together, adding more water as needed to prevent sticking. (photo 9)
When your vegan meat crumbles are cooked, remove from the heat.
How to serve
This veggie ground meat is super versatile. Use it in a classic application with soft or hard taco shells.
Or use it to make a taco salad or wrap it up with lettuce wraps to keep the calorie count even lower.
Just don’t forget your favourite toppings.
What toppings go well with vegan tacos?
Any toppings you’d use with any other taco! Some of my favourite toppings for this veggie ground meat are:
- Avocado slices or make some guacamole.
- Diced tomatoes or salsa.
- Red or green onion, thinly sliced.
- Sliced jalapenos or your favourite hot sauce. (I love sriracha.)
- Some dairy free sour cream (or cashew cream).
- Cilantro or parsley for sprinkling on top.
- Lime wedges for serving.
How long do they keep?
Since there’s actually no meat in our veggie ground meat, this dish keeps refrigerated for up to 5 days.
Just reheat and serve or enjoy cold as it tastes great both ways.
I do not recommend freezing this one as it will get quite soggy once thawed.
Expert Tips and tricks
- Do not puree or over process the ingredients! You want a crumbly consistency of very finely chopped/shredded veggies, and not a pasty consistency. So a food processor or veggie bullet, using the shredder attachment works best. If using a food processor, work in smaller batches if needed, to avoid overly processing the ingredients.
- For picky eaters. If you need to hide the ingredients a little more from picky eaters, rather than process the sun dried tomatoes in the food processor, puree them separately in a blender, along with all the seasoning and 1 cup of water. This makes a red sauce that you can pour over your veggie ground meat and it will make the dish a more uniform colour of reddish brown, resembling ground meat or soy grounds. I make them this way when serving my nieces and nephews and they thought it was store bought “veggie grounds” – aka soy!
- Seasoning! This recipe is generously seasoned and suits our family perfectly. However, feel free to adjust the seasoning to your preference. To spice it up, add some cayenne pepper, a drizzle of vegan Buffalo sauce or add a jalapeno pepper into the mix. If you want some smokiness, sub half of the called for paprika, with smoked paprika. Season the veggie ground mixture to your taste.
- Make it richer/nuttier. Only if you don’t have a nut allergy of course, try subbing the pumpkin seeds for walnuts instead. Both ways taste great, but the walnuts add a bit of a richer flavour. Keep in mind, this sub will also add a few extra calories.
If you tried this recipe, please let me know about it in the comments below. I always love hearing from you! Don’t forget to Subscribe to This Healthy Kitchen to be among the first to get my new recipes! You can also FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter to see more delicious food and get all the latest updates.
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds or walnuts
- 10 sun dried tomatoes
- 1 small cauliflower broken into large florets
- 6-8 white or cremini mushrooms
- 1 yellow onion quartered
- 2 large carrots peeled
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/3 cup water
- Add the pumpkin seeds and sun dried tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until crumbly, but do not over process. Set aside.
- Shred all the remaining vegetables using a food processor or Veggie Bullet. Do not puree them! Transfer the shredded veggies to a deep, nonstick skillet.
- Cook the veggies over medium high heat until reduced and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir often to prevent sticking. You won't need any oil or water since the veggies will produce their own liquid.
- Add all the seasoning, pumpkin seeds and sun dried tomato mixture with the 1/3 cup of water and cook another 2-3 minutes, adding a little more water if needed to keep the mixture moist.
- Serve your vegan meat crumbles as a taco salad, wrap it up in soft or crunchy shells or use lettuce wraps.