Looking for big Tex-Mex flavours in your easy vegan dinners? You can’t do better than my Vegan Cheesy Taco Pasta and Walnut Meat Taco Salad!

Bowl of cheesy vegan taco pasta with spoon

Today I’m bringing you two weeknight dinners in one post! What they both have in common is that they use prepared salsa to add tons of flavour without adding to your prep time. (Of course, if you do prefer making your own salsa, you can whip up my Restaurant Style Blender Salsa and use that instead.)

The Vegan Cheese Taco Pasta a little bit like vegan mac and cheese, but with an upgrade: crumbled taco-seasoned veggie burgers for protein and texture, and an irresistibly creamy sauce made with jarred salsa and shredded vegan cheese. Talk about easy! 

Then use the rest of your salsa to make an easy vegan taco salad; you can use the walnut meat from my vegan burrito recipe, or make those veggie burgers do double-duty and crumble them up to make the meat. While this is definitely a dinner-worthy salad, it’s also fantastic for easy meal prep lunches—just store all the components separately to keep them fresh, then assemble before eating!

Taco salad in a bowls with jar of salsa

Notes on Ingredients

Please note that this is important information on the ingredients and instructions and the FULL recipe with amounts and details can be found DOWN BELOW (scroll to it) in the recipe card.

Here’s what you’ll need for the Cheesy Taco Pasta:

  • Shell pasta – I like shells for this recipe because they have little pockets to hold bits of the vegan taco meat and cheese, but elbow noodles or rotini would work too!
  • Olive oil
  • Veggie burger meatBlack bean burgers would work well, but you can use any kind you like!
  • Salsa – I used a chunky medium salsa.
  • Shredded vegan cheese – I recommend either cheddar, pepper jack, or a Mexican blend. 
  • Taco seasoning
  • Water 
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper

And then if you want to make the Vegan Taco Salad, you’ll need to pick up:

  • Walnut meat, veggie burger meat, or vegan crumbles
  • Taco seasoning
  • Salsa – I used a chunky salsa.
  • Romaine or butter lettuce – Make sure this is dried well to keep your salad from going soggy!
  • Sweet corn – This could be fresh, canned, or thawed from frozen.
  • Black beans
  • Shredded vegan cheddar cheese
  • Avocado
Digging into a bowl of cheesy vegan taco pasta

How to Make Vegan Cheesy Taco Pasta

First up: taco pasta! Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta in salted water according to the directions on the box. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid, and set aside for later.

Make the taco meat. While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a pan set over medium-high heat. Crumble the veggie burger into the pan, then add the taco seasoning. Stir to combine and cook for about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Finish. Reduce the heat to medium. Add MEASUREMENT of the cooking water from the pasta, along with the shells, salsa, and vegan cheese. Stir to combine for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted into a smooth sauce. Add more taco seasoning or salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Does Vegan Cheese Melt?

Not all vegan cheeses melt, but the good news is that vegan cheeses that come pre-shredded are all varieties that are made for melting! So be sure to buy a bag of shredded vegan cheese rather than purchasing a block and shredding it yourself; blocks of vegan cheese may not be formulated for melting.

How to Store

If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days; reheat them in the microwave or in a skillet with a splash of plant-based milk. This recipe can also be frozen for up to 2 months, then thawed in the refrigerator before reheating.

Digging into bowl of vegan taco salad

How to Make Vegan Taco Salad

Once you made the vegan taco meat, the salad is just a matter of assembly!

Make the taco meat. Heat the oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the walnut meat or crumbled veggie burger and taco seasoning and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in the salsa. Taste and add more seasonings, if desired.

Assemble the salad. Place the lettuce on plates, then arrange the taco meat, sweet corn, black beans, shredded cheese and diced avocado on top. If desired, add your choice of dressing or my Vegan Ranch Dressing.

How to Store

If you’d like to store the taco salad, I recommend refrigerating the components separately to keep them fresh. They’ll keep in the fridge for a day or two. Reheat the taco meat in the microwave, then assemble the salads.

Is Taco Salad Healthier Than a Taco?

Yes, a vegan taco salad like this one is lighter and healthier than a typical taco because it doesn’t have the added calories or carbs of a tortilla. 

Enjoy friends! If you make these vegan taco night recipes, please snap a photo and tag #jessicainthekitchen on Instagram! We’d also love it if you would leave a comment below, and give the recipe a rating! Thanks so much!

Bowl of cheesy vegan taco pasta with spoon

Vegan Cheesy Taco Pasta

This Vegan Cheesy Taco Pasta is the quickest, filling and most delicious pasta ever! It’s creamy, filled with protein, and takes only 20 minutes!
5 (from 16 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces shell pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces veggie burger meat
  • 2 cups Pace® Chunky Salsa, Medium
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded vegan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 cup water, (reserved from pasta water)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • In a well-salted pot of boiling water, cook the shell pasta according to the directions on the box. Save 1 cup of pasta water. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  • While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When hot, crumble over the veggie burger into the pan. Add the taco seasoning, stir to combine, and cook for about 3 minutes, until well combined. Season with a pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  • Lower heat to medium. Add in the pasta water (½ cup at a time), the cooked pasta, Medium Pace® Chunky Salsa, shredded vegan cheese and stir to combine for about 3 minutes until the cheese is melted through and the sauce is smooth. Add in the other ½ cup of pasta water if needed/desired, until the sauce is completely smooth. Taste and add more taco seasoning, or salt and pepper if needed.
  • Serve immediately, top with chopped parsley, and enjoy!

Notes

Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.
How to store: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days; reheat in the microwave or in a skillet with a splash of plant-based milk. This recipe can also be frozen for up to 2 months, then thawed in the refrigerator before reheating.
Calories: 258kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 10g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 883mg, Potassium: 343mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 371IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 79mg, Iron: 2mg

Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Digging into bowl of vegan taco salad

The Best Walnut Meat Taco Salad

This Walnut Meat Taco Salad is so tasty and filled with fresh, crisp flavours! It’s saucy, easy to make, and a salad you’ll be making over and over again.
5 (from 12 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 8 ounces walnut meat, veggie burger meat, or 1 cup vegan crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 cup Pace® Chunky Salsa, Mild
  • 6 cups romaine or butter lettuce, rinsed, pat dry and chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet corn, (cooked/canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/2 cup black beans, (cooked/canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 large avocado, chopped

Instructions 

  • In a pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add in the walnut meat or crumbled veggie burger, top with taco seasoning and sauté for about 3 minutes, until fully cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in the Mild Pace® Chunky Salsa until fully coated, for about 30 seconds while it heats through. Taste and add more seasonings if desired.
  • In your plate, add the chopped lettuce. On top of the bed of lettuce, arrange the salad toppings side by side: the salsa veggie meat, the sweet corn, the black beans, the shredded cheese and the chopped avocado. Stir together and enjoy!!

Notes

Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.
How to store: I recommend storing the components separately to keep them fresh. They’ll keep in the fridge for a day or two. Reheat the taco meat, then assemble the salads.
Calories: 503kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 23g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 6mg, Sodium: 1919mg, Potassium: 1535mg, Fiber: 19g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 13264IU, Vitamin C: 20mg, Calcium: 267mg, Iron: 6mg

Disclaimer: Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.