Roasted Cauliflower and Pinto Bean Tacos with Cilantro-Pepita Pesto

April 24 , 2016 by: Taylor Main Dishes

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Wow, it’s been over a month since my last post! And man has it been a crazy month. Our apartment is finally coming together. After getting rid of all of our stuff before New Zealand, it’s been quite a process filling out the apartment again. But it’s almost there! My birthday came and went, I got a job (I’m a sushi chef-in-training now!), played a lot of ultimate frisbee and we went on a trip to Denver with our friends just for fun. There’s been a lot going on but now that I’m back in a routine, I’m going to be posting more regularly!

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I’ve been pretty excited about alternative pesto recipes lately, switching the basil out with whatever greens we have and since pine nuts are ridiculously expensive, I use all different kinds of nuts instead- cashews, walnuts, pecans, etc. I also love pepitas (also known as pumpkin seeds!) and cilantro is my favorite thing ever. So a pesto combining the two was just inevitable and let me tell you, it is soooo good. Honestly, I’d use this cilantro-pepita pesto on just about anything, tacos just seemed like the logical choice.

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Before I went vegetarian, my only opinion of cauliflower was that it was clearly the worst vegetable that came on those pre-made vegetable trays you see at parties and always to be avoided. These were my only encounters with cauliflower. Then I went vegetarian and stumbled across a recipe that used roasted cauliflower as the “meat” in an Orange “Chicken” recipe and never turned back. Roasted cauliflower is insanely delicious. I still don’t like raw cauliflower but roasted, now that’s a different story. It is magical what 20 minutes in a 425° oven can do, I promise. It’s so good.

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So combine those two things, roasted cauliflower and cilantro-pepita pesto, and it’s hard to mess up after that. I made some quick refried pinto beans, threw it in a corn tortilla with the cauliflower, fried the tacos until they were golden brown and crispy, and chopped up some red onion, avocado, and cabbage to put on top. And that’s it, smother in cilantro-pepita pesto and devour.

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Roasted Cauliflower and Pinto Bean Tacos with Cilantro-Pepita Pesto
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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 12 tacos

Roasted cauliflower, kale and quick refried pinto beans form a hearty base for these delicious tacos topped with a fresh cilantro-pepita pesto!


  • For the tacos:
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 cups of packed kale, de-stemmed and chopped (optional)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 cups of pinto beans (2 14.5-oz cans, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 T taco seasoning
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • corn tortillas
  • For the pesto:
  • 2 cups packed cilantro (about 2 bunches)
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 5 slices of fresh jalapeno (with the seeds)
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime (2 T)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Optional toppings:
  • shredded cabbage
  • sliced avocado
  • sliced red onion
  • sliced radishes
  • lime wedges
  • whatever else you like to put on tacos!


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • 2. Transfer onion and cauliflower to the baking sheet and toss with olive oil, cumin, chili powder, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Spread evenly across baking sheet and set aside. When oven is preheated, transfer baking sheet to oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  • 3. Heat 1 T of olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add garlic and taco seasoning and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then add beans, 1/4 cup of water, and 1/2 tsp salt and stir.
  • 4. Cook for a few minutes, mashing a few beans against the side of the pan, until heated through and take off the heat.
  • 5. When the cauliflower has roasted for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and add the kale to the baking sheet. Toss it with the cauliflower and onions using tongs or a turner and put back in the oven. Roast for 5 minutes.
  • 6. While the cauliflower is roasting, add all of the pesto ingredients to a food processor and process until completely smooth.
  • 7. Now, compose the tacos. Set out several corn tortillas on a cutting board. Scoop about 1/4 cup of beans and 1/4 cup of the roasted cauliflower and kale into the middle of each tortilla.
  • 8. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add 1 T of olive oil. Add two tacos to the pan, laying the tortillas flat to start (if you try to fold them over without cooking them, they will break!). After about a minute, fold one side over the other and press so it holds it's shape. When they're golden brown on one side, flip them to the other side. When the other side is golden brown and crispy remove from the pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil and repeat with the rest of the tacos.
  • 9. Serve with your desired toppings and of course, the cilantro-pepita pesto!

Roasted Cauliflower and Pinto Bean Tacos with Cilantro Pepita Pesto | Two Shakes of Happy


  • The photography here is so beautiful! I never have thought to use roasted cauliflower in place of meat… I might have to give that a go sometime!

    • You should definitely give it a shot! It’s so good!

  • Your cauliflower comments regarding raw versus roasted took the words right out of my mouth.

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