Feisty Vegan Taco Salad 9

Crunchy chips, creamy avocado, fresh salsa and a hearty seasoned mixture of walnuts and barley with the kick of cayenne in this Feisty Vegan Taco Salad are perfect to satisfy any Tex-Mex craving.
Vegan Taco Salad

Feisty Vegan Taco Salad

Do you love traveling? I have to say that I do enjoy some travel but leaving home weekly would be tough – my life is so crazy that I savor the quiet minutes at home. When the travel bug does happen to hit me, one of the very first things I do as a plant based foodie is check out unique restaurants located in my destination that offer some creative vegan options, or at least some great dishes that can be easily altered.

Feisty Vegan Taco Salad

The restaurant that stands out from a trip to San Francisco a few years ago was Peter Lowell’s in the little town of Sebestapol. I found it on a recommendation from a local woman and then logged on to my smart phone and checked it out.  They offered tons of vegan, local and sustainable options!  One of the first things that hit me when I walked in the front door was seeing industrial sized salad spinners in the back for cleaning all the greens they go through.  Now THAT is the sign of a good restaurant!  I ordered a macro bowl with lentils, greens, tempeh and some delicious sauces to-go.  What an impression it made! It was so flavorful that I still remember sitting on a bluff overlooking the ocean as I savored every morsel.

Feisty Vegan Taco Salad

When I think of locations I haven’t been to in the US that I’d like to travel to, I think of Montana (anyone have any suggestions on great cities in Montana?), Lake Tahoe, South Padre Island, Outer Banks of North Carolina, and Vegas baby!  My parents are going to be heading out there in September so my mom was asking about some places to eat – I searched around on line and found this a great list of celebrity chef restaurants in Vegas.  I’d LOVE to try Bobby Flay’s restaurant.  Though he doesn’t cater to a vegan diet, there is a LOT to work with there.  Black beans, fresh salsas and sauces, and avocados.  You just can’t go wrong with avocado!

Feisty Vegan Taco Salad

All the talk of avocado was making me hungry – and this salad was certainly gratifying.  Crunchy chips, creamy avocado, fresh salsa and a hearty seasoned mixture of walnuts and barley with the kick of cayenne are perfect to satisfy any Tex-Mex craving.

I created a chipotle walnut lettuce wrap with mango salsa in the past, based on a recipe from the glorious blog My New Roots (Who ironically just posted about travel as well.), that was better than any greasy beef dish I’d ever had – so I used the basic idea of taco seasoning and walnuts but added in some chewy barley to enhance the “beefy” texture.  The barley can be pre-cooked a few days beforehand but keep in mind that if you want a warmer temperature that you will have to heat the walnut barley mixture.

Tips: Not a spice fan? If you don’t like the heat, simply leave out the cayenne pepper.
Gluten allergy?  Sub quinoa for the barley!

Feisty Vegan Taco Salad

Feisty Vegan Taco Salad

6 servings
Printable Recipe


½ cup barley
1/2 cup raw walnuts
6 ribs romaine lettuce, chopped
1 bag organic blue corn chips

Flavor Punch!

1 Tbsp tamari, soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil


1 avocado
1/2 lime, juiced
¼ red onion
1 tomato
Dash of coarse sea salt


1. Rinse barley in a fine mesh strainer; soak barley in 2 cups water overnight; drain; add to a medium pot with 1 1/2 cups water or veggie broth; bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. (**See below for cook times without pre-soak.) Reserve 1/2 cup cooked barley for recipe and save the rest for another use.

2. Place walnuts in a food processor or magic bullet; mix flavor punch! ingredients in a small bowl and add to walnuts; pulse until well combined; stir in cooked barley.

2. Mix salsa ingredients in a small bowl.  Lay a few chips on each plate; top with 1 rib chopped romaine, crumble 2 Tbsp walnut barley mixture and 2 Tbsp salsa.

**Rinse barley; add to 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover; cook 45 minutes.

Nutrition Facts
6 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 194.3
Total Fat 14.9 g
Saturated Fat 1.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 6.8 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 213.4 mg
Potassium 309.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.6 g
Dietary Fiber 4.7 g
Sugars 0.5 g
Protein 3.6 g

Vitamin A 12.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 10.5 %
Vitamin C 14.7 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 5.2 %
Calcium 2.5 %
Copper 11.4 %
Folate 13.8 %
Iron 7.2 %
Magnesium 7.9 %
Manganese 24.7 %
Niacin 6.8 %
Pantothenic Acid 5.8 %
Phosphorus 7.2 %
Riboflavin 5.5 %
Selenium 2.9 %
Thiamin 6.3 %
Zinc 4.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Enjoy this Feisty Vegan Taco Salad!

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About DHCooks

Dawn Hutchins is a health & wellness entrepreneur that specializes in plant-based living education and coaching. She's a published author, wife, and mother of one sweet little girl. When she's not crusading for the advancement of plant-based nutrition, she's camping, stretching in yoga and paddleboarding on her SUP.

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