You may recall my previous Taco recipe using Mexican style Smart Ground. This is similar, but the seasoning has been adjusted for a different filling. There doesn’t seem to be a reliable local source for the Mexican flavored Smart Ground, so I’ve adapted that recipe to use Simple Truth’s Meatless Crumbles. This soy protein meat substitute is significantly different from both the Mexican Smart Ground and the regular Smart Ground (which doesn’t work well for tacos). For one thing, the Simple Truth Meatless Crumbles comes in a bag in the freezer section, not packed in a tight block in the refrigerator section of the grocery store. This gives it a longer storage life, and because you can break up the icy package a bit (like the way you do frozen peas), it means that you can measure out specific amounts rather than use the whole package. I do use the whole package for this recipe, but I like the versatility of the Simple Truth Meathless Crumbles.
Another way the Meatless Crumbles is versatile is that it doesn’t seem to have much in the way of flavoring added to it, unlike the Smart Ground….And since I was using Mexican flavored Smart Ground (when I could find it) I had to adjust the seasoning quite a bit. The Meatless Crumbles seem like a good option for a lot of recipes because it doesn’t bring so much in the way of a distinctive flavor to a dish, so that it can just really soak up the flavors and seasonings you add.
And “soak it up” is a very apt phrase. One thing you’ll notice as soon as you add any liquid is that this stuff just sucks it up. It’s a very moist meat substitute. I had to double the amount of water I used because one cup was absorbed so quickly. It may take a bit longer to cook down, but you won’t really cook this mixture dry. I like simmering because it gives the flavors time to blend and be absorbed. If 2 cups of water seems a bit much to you, start with one cup and than just add as much more as you like. It does need to have enough liquid to simmer on low heat for a little while.
1 pkg. Simple Truth Meatless Crumbles
Approximately 1-2 cups water
1 Tbls dried minced onion
1 Tbls chili powder (I use Mexene as my basic chili powder.)
2 tsp ancho powder
1 tsp Hungarian hot paprika
small amount of salt and black pepper
12 Taco shells
Toppings such as lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese or vegan cheese
First brown the Meatless Crumbles in a small amount of oil, on medium heat, stirring continually and breaking up frozen clumps. It should be a bit browned, but definitely thawed. Don’t worry if it sticks to the bottom a bit; water is a universal solvent and you can deglaze the pan as soon as you pour the water in.
Add the water and the seasonings, scrape the pan if needed, and lower the heat to low or medium low. Stir and simmer until it has cooked down to the consistency you want. This makes a fairly moist filling; you’ll want to cook away the liquid, but not simmer it so long that the filling becomes dry or starts to stick to the pan again.
Heat the taco shells according to package directions. Some shells call for adding the filling and then heating, some you heat and then fill. I prefer the latter, but if you grab a box of taco shells that calls for filling the shells before heating, do it: otherwise the shells will shatter spectacularly when you bite into them.
Using one package of Simple Truth’s frozen Meatless Crumbles makes easily enough to fill a dozen taco shells.
This recipe is pretty spicy. If you like things not-so-hot, omit the hot paprika. If it’s still a bit much, then pare back the chili powder a bit. For my previous Vegetarian Taco recipe, I used 2 tsp chili powder and 1 tsp ancho powder, but without the added seasoning of Mexican Smart Ground, that combination (which also included the hot paprika) was disappointingly bland. So you’ve got a couple of options for tweaking the seasoning: you can either start with this recipe and dial it back, or start with the other recipe and crank it up! 😉 A lot of the kick comes from the hot paprika, though. If you’re leary of spicy food, that should be the first thing to go. The chili powder you use also affects the flavor. I use Mexene chili powder. It has a good flavor and makes a nice base to build on.