Vegan Cauliflower Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor

Vegan Cauliflower Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor

Vegan tacos even a carnivore will drool over.

First things first: I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian or pescetarian or any other type of dietary restriction out there.  I’m in the business of creating delicious things to put in my mouth, and sometimes that includes recipes that happen to be vegan.  What could be a better carnivore transition than vegan tacos?

Tonight, T is out of town traveling for work. Taco night in our house is practically a weekly occurrence. I’m obsessed. He’s obsessed.  I hate when he’s gone, BUT (I almost feel bad saying this) it means I get a rare chance to experiment with recipes Mr. Burger&Fries would usually roll his eyes at.

There’s this taco bar in Atlanta we recently went to, Bartaco, and one of my favorite tacos of theirs is a vegan cauliflower taco.  I knew the first night I had alone I had to try and recreate the spicy, sweet, crunchy amazingness that keeps me coming back over and over.

Vegan Cauliflower Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Spicy. Sweet. Crunchy. Limey. Filling, addictive, taco heaven.

Menu Planning is My Life

There are few things in life I enjoy more than planning out meals, menus, recipes, and grocery lists weeks and months in advance. I wish I were kidding. I spend hours finding new recipes, figuring out ways to use every ingredient somewhere else in the week, and ensuring I have the best leftovers for lunch in my office every day.

This taco recipe is particularly exciting for me because the two main ingredients, cauliflower and chickpeas, also happen to be part of my Spicy Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Curry recipe, (recipe coming soon!)

That’s why you’ll see me only using half of the cauliflower and can of chickpeas tonight; I’m saving it for curry later this week. The recipe below only serves 2, (one for dinner, one for lunch tomorrow!), so you could easily double it and use up all the ingredients for 4 servings.

Let’s Cook!

I love chopping vegetables. There’s something so cathartic about focusing on cutting, slicing, and prepping food after a long day at the office. Oh, and put a big skillet on your stove and crank the heat to medium.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Hello, beautiful white tree. I’m saving the rest of you for vegan curry later this week 😛

Cut up your cauliflower into bite size pieces and ensure you’ll have tiny cauliflower specs hiding in your kitchen for weeks to come.  Dice up a quarter of a red onion. Honestly, any kind of onion would be great, but I just love the red ones for flavor and color.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor

Now that your pan is hot, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil in there, and wait a minute or two more until it starts to shimmer, (that means it’s hot enough!). Add those onions. Listen to them sizzle. Get excited.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Seriously, when is smell-o-vision going to be invented. It’s 2016. There’s nothing better than onions cooking away.

After a minute or two of the onions cooking, throw in the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper and stir it around.

I’m adding a little lime zest and lime juice at this point because cauliflower cooking makes your house smell like garbage. I think I read somewhere that lemon juice will mask the smell when it’s cooking, so limes should do the same thing, right?  Limes are more taco-y to me than lemons, and that’s what I have laying around.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
If you don’t have a microplane yet I insist you buy one immediately. They’re a game changer.

Let those babies cook for about 10 minutes, and try and remember to stir it once or twice.

Meanwhile, let’s do some more chopping! Dice half a seeded jalapeño, and about half a cup of pineapple.  If you think you want to leave the seeds in the jalapeño, just know there are chipotles in adobo coming which will light you on fire.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Dice your green jalapeños on your green cutting board next to your green microplane. Contemplate if green is, in fact, your favorite color.
Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
I buy pre-cut pineapple in a container from the produce section. Are there people out there who actually dare tackle the whole, pokey pineapples themselves?

Stir your onion and cauliflower mix. We’re going to make a sauce real quick. In a food processor or blender add a clove of garlic, (whole is fine, that’s the food processor’s job), chile powder, paprika, salt & pepper, pineapple juice, vinegar, the other 1/2 cup of pineapple chunks, and one whole chipotle pepper.  Blend or puree for 30 seconds.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Your eyes may water when you open up the lid on this fire sauce. It’s worth it, just don’t rub your eyes after chopping jalapeños!

Pour all that sauce into the cauliflower mixture. Stir it up. Moan.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Once that smell travels up to your nose, you’ll forget it’s vegan.

Add your diced pineapple, jalapeño, and chickpeas…
Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor

Stir it up…Start getting excited….
Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor

Try and find a lid to cover your pan. Fail. Use the wrong sized lid anyway…

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Whatever, I’m not perfect

Let that simmer on medium/low heat for about ten more minutes. Now the fun starts. If you have a gas stove, light one of the burners and turn it on medium/low as well.  If you don’t have gas, it’s easy to steam tortillas in the microwave with a wet paper towel!

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Take a picture of your stove and reevaluate how often you clean your cook top…

Because I think eating whole grains is a substitute for working out, I’m using whole grain tortillas. Toast them up over the open flame.  Almost burn your house down.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
When they start to bubble up, you know it’s time to flip!

FINALLY, THE MOMENT HAS ARRIVED. Assemble. Squeeze those limes. Top with cilantro. Devour.

Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Vegan Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Hello, gorgeous.

SPICY. Those chipotles in adobo aren’t messing around…

SWEET. Does anyone not like pineapple? This is the best flavor combination out there.

CRUNCHY. The cauliflower isn’t overdone, and still has a satisfying crunch.

SATISFYING. Between the hearty cauliflower and protein from the chickpeas, you won’t even notice there isn’t meat, (although I definitely need to make a pork version for T….)

You’ve gotta make these, whether it’s just a treat for you or for a whole party of carnivores. No one can resist tacos al pastor 🙂

Until next time,


Vegan Cauliflower Chickpea Tacos Al Pastor
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Vegan tacos even a carnivore will drool over. Spicy, sweet, crunchy, and satisfying.
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2 servings
  • ½ head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • ½ can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks, divided in half
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ⅛ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup pineapple-orange fruit juice
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo from can
  • 6-8 soft shell tortillas, flour or corn
  • fresh cilantro, for serving
  1. Place a large skillet on your stovetop over medium/high heat. Add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Dice a quarter of a red onion. Chop half a cauliflower into bite-size pieces.
  3. Add the diced onion to the skillet; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Zest a lime over the cauliflower, cut and add the juice from a quarter of the lime, and cook cauliflower mixture for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. While that cooks, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Seed and dice half a jalapeño. Dice ½ a cup of pineapple chunks. Put to the side and make the sauce.
  6. In a food processor or blender add a whole clove of peeled garlic, chili powder, paprika, salt & pepper, vinegar, pineapple juice, the other ½ cup of chunked pineapple, and one chipotle pepper in adobo from the can. Blend or puree for 30 seconds.
  7. Pour the sauce into the skillet and add the chopped jalapeño, pineapple, and chickpeas. Stir, turn heat to medium/low, cover, and let simmer for 10 more minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, heat tortillas in microwave or on gas burners if desired.
  9. Divide the cauliflower mixture amongst the warm tortillas, top with fresh cilantro and fresh squeezed lime juice.
  10. Enjoy!
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Written by Ally