Friday, May 2, 2014

Vegan {Faux} Spicy "Tuna" Tacos with gluten-free option

The first time I heard about cauliflower pizza I was intrigued. I've used it as a rice substitute but never thought to use it as a dough sub. So I added it to my never-ending "new recipes to try" list. It wasn't until after the whole wave of excitement over cauliflower pizza crust that I actually gave it a try.

I immediately wanted to kick myself. It was DELICIOUS! At that moment I promised I would actually give that "new recipes to try" list more time and attention. If I came across any interesting, healthy substitutes that I'd never thought to try before, I was going to get in the kitchen and try it out! It's all about experimenting in the kitchen!

But that wasn't the first time I made such a promise to myself. I remember having those same thoughts many years ago after making bean brownies. And unfortunately I still haven't learned my lesson...   

What can I say? It happens. Sometimes I get so use to my ways of cooking and baking that I forget the only way to grow is to continue experimenting. And honestly, that's when I have the most fun in the kitchen. Those times when I'm just doing my own thing, working with what I have on hand and seeing what I can come up with. 

But yet again, I had the urge to kick myself last weekend when I finally decided to try baked watermelon as a vegan substitute for tuna. This has actually been on my list much longer than cauliflower pizza. The first time I came across baked watermelon steak (about 5 or 6 years ago!) I was interested, but I think because I was still eating actual steak at the time, it just didn't appeal to me enough to make it then and there. BUT! I was so amazed how watermelon can take on a whole new identity that I never forgot about it.

Finally, this past weekend, I went for the gold and made spicy "tuna" for some vegan spicy "tuna" tacos.


So good! I couldn't believe I was eating watermelon. Neither could Billy! We devoured everything. It is the perfect solution for vegans/vegetarians that have fond memories of sashimi.

I can't wait to make these again.

And again.

And again. 

Now some people have mixed feelings about watermelon. Is it good for you? Is it bad for you? I think after hearing a few people that are "dieting" give their grief about watermelon, I feel the need to stick up for the fruit a little bit! Especially after I heard someone quote their dieting consultant by saying "I can eat all the brisket I want, but I can't have watermelon."
What?! I understand people are concerned with the amount of sugar in watermelon but here's how I see it: Too much of anything, especially sugar, is not good for you. Just like with anything we eat, moderation is key. Unless you plan on eating an entire watermelon by yourself in one sitting, I think the essential vitamins it carries, like Vitamin A & C, outweigh the natural sugar it contains. The key is a few slices here and there and not the entire melon! Oh and did you catch that? I said natural sugar. There is a difference between the type of sugar a watermelon produces and artificial. Still I understand not everyone feels this way. I think I just get annoyed with those that eat half their sandwich or bowl of pasta because they are "dieting" but won't touch a watermelon with a stick because of it's sugar content.  

Ahhhh... okay. Got that out. I feel better.

Notes: Don't forget to take those seeds out of your watermelon!
If you would like to achieve a nice char on both sides of your steak, flip once during the last 45 minutes of baking. No harm if you decide not to flip the watermelon while baking.
While the recipe for faux tuna is gluten-free, the tacos featured are not. But maybe try that cauliflower rice I was talking about as a jasmine rice substitute? You can even drizzle some of the reserved juices from watermelon baking on top of the cauliflower rice for added flavor. Also, not all store bought corn tortillas are gluten free so read the label carefully! Or just make your own because they will probably taste a million times better anyways.

Baked Watermelon//Spicy "Tuna"
Recipe adapted from

1 small watermelon, seedless
olive oil
2 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp raw coconut vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 tsp GF sriracha sauce or hot chile paste 

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut your watermelon into steaks (check out .gif above) and place on baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, making sure to coat each side. Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust to taste- I like spicy so I tend to add a few extra drops of hot sauce. Pour marinade over watermelon steaks, coating all sides. Cover with foil and bake for 2 hours. Reserve the juice if you'd like!

To make tacos:
Mini corn tortillas
1 cup cooked Jasmine rice
Vegan Mayo
Serrano Pepper
Green onion, 

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of your frying pan. Fry tortillas, one at a time, by letting them soak in the oil for about 30 seconds first and then using a spatula to bend and hold the shape of a taco shell while they fry- about 45 seconds-1 minute on each side or until a nice golden color is achieved.
Mix jasmine rice with a spoonful of vegan mayo (or a little bit or yogurt). This will make the rice much easier to work with while adding a little taste.
Take your shell, add some rice, top with "tuna", and sprinkle with cilantro, thinly sliced serrano peppers and chopped green onion tops.



  1. I have to try these!

  2. Had this pinned for a while and just got around to making these. I can't believe how the watermelon transformed like that! It was so tasty. Going to make again with some sushi rice and do spicy tuna rolls. Btw, I'm not vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free but loved it.

    1. I'm so happy this recipe worked out for you! Even after making this several times, I'm still amazed with the transformation of the watermelon. So far, I've had good results in making spicy "tuna" hand rolls but hope to venture a little more with the recipe. Thanks for the comment, Barry! Good luck with the sushi making!

  3. Hi there,
    I love how you show those little slide shows of how to cute everything. I'm not that big on sushi but I love to cook and I think I should try something new and this is a great way for me to do that.
    Thanks so much,

    1. I'm glad you like the GIF, Darby! Even though I use the square cut portions of the watermelon for this recipe, you can still use the cutoff portions. Hope you like it!