Vegan Tostadas with Pickled Cabbage and Jalepeno Sauce

Last weekend I was prepping some weekday dinners when my wife was out of town. I was in an adventurous cooking mood and was anxious to experiment with some new recipes. As you’ve probably noticed while perusing this site, tacos are a favorite in our household. While I was searching online for something new and exciting, I came across a portobello taco recipe that was accompanied by what appeared to be a delicious jalapeno sauce. The combination looked wonderful, with cool cucumber, spicy jalapeno, and tangy lemon and vinegar. And it looked like leftovers would be a tasty topping for other dishes (I happened to use it as a salad dressing for the rest of the week!). While I opted to be creative and experiment by making my own taco “meat” combination, I used the sauce recipe as it was written directly from the Love and Lemons blog.

For my taco meat, I used a healthy combination of chopped mushrooms, riced cauliflower, and crumbled tempeh. The addition of the tempeh created a nice “meatiness” and provided some additional protein to the dish.

To balance out the spicy chewiness of the “meat” and the creaminess of the sauce, I decided to make a quick pickled red cabbage. This added a tangy crunch and an element of freshness to an already flavorful combination of ingredients.

Finally, I decided to get really crazy. I found some “street taco” corn tortillas in our grocery store, and decided to toast these until crunchy and create some open faced tostadas instead of our standard tacos. My son whipped up a quick guacamole to spread on the tortillas, and we chopped up some fresh romaine and tomatoes to complete the dish.


Street taco tortillas (4 inch). I used white corn but they can also be found as flour tortillas if preferred

  • Optional: avocado or guacamole, chopped lettuce and tomato for topping


  • 1 bag riced cauliflower (can be found in the produce section)
  • 6-8 ounces diced mushrooms (can use any combination of button, portobella, shiitake, etc.)
  • 4 ounces crumbled tempeh (I used Lightlife brand. 8 ounce blocks can usually be found in the produce section)
  • 1/2 pack low sodium taco seasoning (I’ve used El Paso and Trader Joe’s brands. If you have time, you can also mix up your own)
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I like Mateo’s brand. It comes in mild and spicy)

Pickled Cabbage

  • 2-3 cups thinly-sliced red cabbage (can use a knife or Mandoline
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Jalapeno Sauce

  • 1/2-2 jalapenos, depending on spice preference
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 3 hours (or in hot water for 15-20 minutes), then drained
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped and peeled cucumber
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives


Pickled Cabbage

  • Mix water, apple cider vinegar, salt, and sugar in a glass bowl. Warm for 30 seconds to 1 minute in the microwave which will promote the salt and sugar to dissolve. Add shredded cabbage.
  • Ideally, allow mixture to marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator prior to serving
Shredded cabbage pickling


  • Saute cauliflower and mushrooms over medium heat until soft (I used a nonstick pan with no oil. I’ll usually add a splash of water or veggie broth to the pan periodically to keep food from sticking)
  • Add crumbled tempeh and saute until warm
  • Mix in taco seasoning and salsa (and up to 1/4 cup water if mixture appears dry)
  • Cover and set aside so flavors can be absorbed
Mushroom, Cauliflower, and Tempeh taco “meat”

Jalapeno Sauce

  • Roast jalapenos. Easiest method is to broil for a few minutes until skin is black and blistered. Once the peppers have this appearance, place in a bowl and cover with foil or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. Then peel skins
  • Remove stems and seeds from jalapenos (or leave some seeds if you prefer extra heat) and place in a high-speed blender
  • Add cashews, water, vinegar, shallot, garlic, cucumber, lemon, and salt/pepper to taste
  • Blend until smooth and creamy, adding more water if necessary. Add more seasoning/lemon/vinegar to desired taste
  • Stir in chopped chives and refrigerate

Assembling Tostadas

  • I cooked my tortillas in an air fryer for 5-10 minutes until crispy. These could also be toasted in a toaster oven
  • Spread with mashed avocado or guacamole if desired
  • Top with “meat” mixture, lettuce, tomato, and pickled cabbage
  • Drizzle sauce over top and enjoy
  • These can also be prepared as traditional tacos if preferred