Roasted Walnut and Cauliflower “Meat”

According to a survey conducted by the California Walnut Board, preference for flavor and texture is the top reason people choose meat-centric dishes over plant-based alternatives.

The simple solution is to create craveable plant-forward meals that deliver on taste, texture, and health. Walnuts are a key ingredient with a rich source of the omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (2.5 grams per ounce), mild, nutty flavor, and just the right amount of crunch.

Roasted Walnut and Cauliflower “Meat” combines toasted walnuts, cauliflower, and spices to create a texture and flavor combination appealing to both vegetarians and meat-lovers. Try this mixture as a meat alternative in a variety of dishes, such as tacos, frittatas, salads, pastas, grain bowls, and burgers.

You can also add your own creative twist. Start with toasted walnuts and add different plant-based ingredients such as lentils, beans, and mushrooms, and your favorite spices. The flavor and texture of walnuts adapts well to an assortment of recipes. The possibilities are endless.

This Food & Nutrition Test Kitchen recipe, developed by the California Walnut Board, is a simple and light option. Follow the recipe exactly, or make it your own by swapping ingredients or adding new flavors!

Roasted Walnut and Cauliflower “Meat”

Serves 6


  • 1 small head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cup California walnut pieces, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeded, minced
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 475ºF.
  2. Coat cauliflower with 1 tablespoon olive oil, place on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and toast walnuts for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add to pan with cauliflower. Optional: Cauliflower mixture may be pulsed in a food processor to resemble the texture of ground meat.
  4. Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Add garlic and jalapeño and cook for 2 minutes more.
  6. Stir in water, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt; cook until mixture is thick and excess water has cooked off.
  7. Stir in cauliflower mixture.

Food & Nutrition Magazine publishes articles on food and diet trends, highlights of nutrition research and resources, updates on public health issues and policy initiatives related to nutrition, and explorations of the cultural and social factors that shape Americans’ diets and health.