Here’s How You Can Use Walnuts As A Meat Substitute

Sep 20, 2021, 18:05 IST

t Spicy California Walnut and Cauliflower Indian Wraps

These three easy and delicious recipes will help you start on a journey to more plant-based eating to come

The world over, there are many vegans, vegetarians and even meat eaters who are looking to increase their intake of plant-based foods, add another dimension to their meal plans, and balance things out in their gut.  The choices of plant-based foods in India are many – among them nut milks, tempeh, and jackfruit, but also the ubiquitous walnut. Walnuts are amazingly versatile, lending themselves to all kinds of preparations, but it’s time to recognise that they are also a great natural meat substitute.

As a natural plant-based protein, walnuts can easily be used to replace meat-based proteins. With a punch of protein, walnuts are also naturally free of  gluten, sodium and cholesterol, making them a far healthier alternative to meat. And all this while being yummy! Many restaurants the world over have incorporated walnut meat into their dishes, because there is a demand for innovative offerings from locals and visitors looking for plant-based alternatives in their food.

Want to bring the idea home? You, too, can use walnuts to create ‘faux’ meat. Here are three recipes to help you get started.

Walnut “Chorizo” Tacos with Pickled Vegetables

sm Walnut “Chorizo” Tacos with Pickled Vegetables


For the pickled vegetables:

½ cup fresh lime juice

1½ tsp sugar

¾ tsp sea salt

8 radishes, thinly sliced

2 medium jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced

1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced


For the walnut chorizo crumble:

1½ cups black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups walnuts

3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil (divided usage)

1 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp Ancho chilli powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 tsp chipotle, ground

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander


For the tacos:

16 whole wheat tortillas

Olive oil or olive oil cooking spray

Thinly-sliced romaine lettuce

Fresh cilantro leaves

Lime wedges


  1. To prepare the pickled vegetables, stir together the lime juice, sugar and sea salt in a small bowl. Stir in the radish, jalapeno and garlic slices, and let stand for 30 minutes to pickle.
  2. Meanwhile, to prepare the  “chorizo” crumble, place the beans and walnuts in a food processor, and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add two tablespoons of the oil and remaining crumble ingredients to the food processor, and pulse again until the mixture is finely chopped and resembles ground meat, stirring several times and moving the mixture from the bottom of the food processor bowl to the top to evenly mix.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a very large nonstick pan over a medium flame. Add the “chorizo” mixture to the pan, and cook for 10 minutes or until the mixture is nicely browned and resembles ground meat, stirring frequently. (This may be prepared several days ahead and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator.)
  4. Brush each tortilla lightly with oil or coat with cooking spray. Cook briefly on a griddle or skillet over a medium-high fle to brown on both sides, keeping warm in foil until all the tortillas are cooked.
  5. Remove the pickled vegetables from the liquid. Discard the garlic slices. Fill each tortilla with equal amounts of “chorizo” and pickled vegetables. Garnish with lettuce and cilantro, and serve with lime wedges.

Walnut & Mushroom Teriyaki Burgers

sm Walnut & Mushroom Teriyaki Burgers


1 cup rolled oats
340 g mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sliced green onions
2 tbsp soy sauce
¾ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp black pepper
2 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil
¼ cup teriyaki sauce + extra for serving

To serve:
6 burger buns 

Leafy lettuce

Sliced red onion 

Sliced avocado

Grilled pineapple slices (optional)


  1. Place the oats in a food processor and process until they resemble a coarse meal. Remove and set aside.
  2. Place the mushrooms in the food processor, and finely chop; add to the bowl with the oats. Add the walnuts and green onions to the food processor and chop fairly finely. Add to the bowl along with the soy sauce, ginger, garlic and onions powders, black pepper, and eggs. Mix well, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Using wet hands, shape into six patties.
  4. Heat the oil in a very large nonstick skillet over a medium-high flame. Add the patties and cook for three to five minutes on each side, brushing with teriyaki sauce during the last two minutes of cooking.
  5. Serve on the buns with any desired toppings.

Spicy Walnut & Cauliflower Indian Wraps

sm1 Spicy California Walnut and Cauliflower Indian Wraps


For the walnut meat:

1 small head cauliflower, chopped

1 cup chopped walnut pieces

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided usage)

¾ cup minced sweet onion

2 tsp minced garlic

½ tsp minced fresh ginger

1 Thai chilli (or a medium jalapeño), stemmed, seeded and minced

½ cup water

¼ cup tomato paste

¼ cup golden raisins

2½ tsp chilli powder

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp garlic oil

1 tsp kosher salt, to taste

For the raita:

1 cup Greek-style yoghurt

¼ cup finely-diced cucumber

¼ cup walnuts, toasted and ground

1 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Lime juice and zest, to taste

Sea salt and pepper, to taste



  1. Preheat the oven to 240°C. 
  2. Coat the cauliflower with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C and toast the walnuts for five minutes or until lightly browned. Add to the baking sheet with the cauliflower.
  4. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high flame. Add the onion and sauté for five minutes, or until lightly browned. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli, and cook for two minutes more. Stir in the water, tomato paste, golden raisins, chilli powder, garam masala, cumin, and salt; cook until the mixture is thick and the excess water has cooked off. Stir in the cauliflower mixture and garlic oil. Cook for three minutes to let the flavours blend. (The cauliflower and walnuts mixture may be ground in a food processor so that it resembles the texture of ground meat.) Remove from the flame.
  5. Mix together the ingredients for the raita.
  6. Serve the walnut meat in butter lettuce wraps or roti flatbread. Top with a dollop of the raita and microgreens.

Recipes and images: California Walnuts


Also see: It's the time to tempeh