Everyone loves empanadas, and if you're a vegan, you'll love this vegan mince recipe. So many of our pastelones and picaderas can be adapted to a vegan version by just changing the filling. And now we have a tried and tested meatless mince that our vegan readers will love.
Why we ❤️ it
If you've been around long enough, maybe you've noticed that we try never to forget our vegan and vegetarian readers.
Whenever possible, I test my recipes with vegan options and give instructions on how to "veganize" them. When there's no chance the recipe would work with simple changes, then I try to come up with an entirely different version (like our popular vegan sancocho recipe).
One thing was missing: a stuffing / filling for pastelones and picaderas. Not anymore.
Vegan ground beef substitute
Our minced beef filling, or picadillo vegano, is the most popular pastelones, pasteles, and empanadas filling recipes. I wanted a meatless, ground-beef mince vegan substitute that had the right texture and color, had protein in it, and --above all-- was very flavorful. Aunt Ilana and I put our heads together and combined our ideas.
Best of all: The ingredients are easy to find.
What to do with it
This dish has the proper level of chewiness, rich flavors, smoky undertones, and umami touch required to show through a vegan pastelón de plátano maduro, Christmas vegan pasteles en hoja, or a crispy pastelito (hand pie), this baked no-butter empanada (vegan mince pies) dough is also an amazing choice. For a gluten-free choice, try our catibía yuca empanada.
Although not a Dominican dish, this lovely vegan plant-based mince can also be used in tacos lieu of taco meat, and to fill savory pastries.
Vegan mince with lentils and mushrooms.
- I also didn't want mushy lentils, so instead of boiling them, I "braised" them with the mushrooms; the liquids released by the vegetables were absorbed by the lentils, resulting in extra-flavorful lentils that are soft without turning into a puree.
- I prefer porcini mushrooms, but for this recipe, I tested it with portobello as they're easier to find and less expensive.
- If you can find porcini, by all means, use them; they add extra "meatiness" to the flavor (which will be a plus for the non-vegans at the table).
- Try adding some of your favorite seasonings and spices, like cumin, chili flakes, paprika, garlic powder, or onion powder. I found it very flavorful with the seasonings I added, but there's always space for experimentation.
- This vegan carne molida can be stored or frozen in an airtight container. It will last about 3 days in the fridge and up to a month in the freezer.
About this recipe
So, what's in this vegan plant-based minced "meat"? Two vegan staples: lentils and mushrooms. This comes with the endorsement of my vegetable-averse family and vegetable-loving Aunt Ilana. It's hard to get them to agree on food.
If you'd like to try more vegan empanada fillings, check out this other vegan vegetable mix empanada filling.
This awesome free recipe contains Amazon affiliate links, we receive a small commission from any purchase you make at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
Vegan Mince [Recipe + Video] Pastelones and Empanadas Filling
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large red onion, minced
- 4 large portobello mushroom caps, (or 8 porcini), minced
- 1 red bell pepper, minced
- ½ cup dry lentils, [120 g] brown lentils, raw, rinsed
- 1 teaspoon pepper (freshly-cracked, or ground)
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon oregano (dry, ground)
- 1 teaspoon salt, (or more, to taste)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1½ tablespoon soy sauce
- ¼ cup minced curly parsley
- Heat oil over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring until it has turned translucent.
- Stir in the lentils. Stir. Add freshly-cracked black pepper, thyme, oregano, and a pinch of salt. Cook stirring until everything is heated through.Add the mushrooms, and stir to mix. Pour in the tomato sauce and stir.
- Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft but still whole.During this time, stir it every ten minutes to cook uniformly. The vegetables will keep releasing liquid, which is what the lentils will cook in. If it ever dries too much, add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent it from scorching.
- Add soy sauce and stir. Taste and add more salt if you find it necessary (I did).Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley.
- Serve as a standalone vegan main dish, or use to stuff pastelones, picaderas, or empanadas.
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutrition information.
Mince – picadillo in Spanish – is a dish made from minced meat, seasonings, and vegetables. A vegan mince is a meatless dish that resembles a traditional mince.
You can make a vegan mince by subtituting ground meat for a similar meatless ingredient. A popular substitute is texturized soy, or – as in this recipe – mushrooms and lentils.
Published May 13, 2021, revised