“Neat” Fargo Vegan Tacos and Sides

Fargo is the last place I expected to stay with a vegan who vacations at Burning Man! He lived smack in the middle of Fargo’s gorgeous, walkable downtown – a four block oasis in the middle of rust belt sprawl.

Like the majority of my hosts, he didn’t have any bread in the house (it’s so unfashionable) but did have a bag of tortillas. He also had a package of “Neat” just-add-water fake meat mix that he’d owned for years but felt too dubious to try, plus some peaches past their prime. That inspired me to try a Vegan Miso Risotto (which worked beautifully – check out my recipe!) and some Asian-fusion inspired tacos using the dried “meat” mix and condiments in his fridge.

The whole vegan meal was easy, cheaper than cooking with meat, and a hit with him and his friends!

“Neat” Vegan Tacos

The package says to mix ½ cup of water with the powder, pack it into patties, and cook until it’s warmed through and browned on the outside. I substituted flavored liquids for the water so we could enjoy some incredibly quick and easy Asian-Fusion tacos.


  • 1 tbsp hosin sauce
  • 1 tbsp black bean & garlic sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp liquid from a jar of minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp water
  • ½ tbsp ginger paste
  • ½ tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 package “Neat” fake meat powder
  • 1 tbsp


  • Thoroughly mix everything but the fake meat and olive oil until it’s well blended.
  • Add the fake meat powder and mix until barely combined. You want large, textured crumbles, not a uniform paste.
  • Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Brown for 6-8 minutes, stirring every minute or so. You want to keep it moving without over handling it. That way all sides get browned without turning your taco filling into mush.
  • When it’s browned to your satisfaction, take it off the heat. Let it rest in the skillet for another minute or two before piling into freshly toasted tortillas.

Cucumber, Apple, and Pickled Veggie Juice Salad

Pickled veggies are a midwest staple. They usually include carrots (my favorite!) and onions, plus a mix of asparagus, red bell peppers, and/or cauliflower. If you find a jar of pickled veggies (other than your usual cucumbers) at a farmer’s market you should absolutely give them a try! These used to be a staple of American cuisine and now they’re a tasty niche market.

Once you eat the tasty veggies, the pickling liquid is perfect for lightly tossing freshly chopped fruit for veggies for a crisp, refreshing summer side dish.


  • 1 large Fuji or Gala Apple
  • 1 cucumber, seeded
  • 1/4 cup juices from a jar of pickled veggies


  • Core your apple. Cut both the apple and cucumber into equal sized cubes – I like ¼ inch.
  • Mix the apple, cucumber, liquid from your pickled veggies in a large bowl.
  • Let the mix sit in a cold corner of your fridge for at least half an hour before serving. Toss once more before bringing it to the table to ensure the flavors are evenly distributed.

Vegan Purple Cabbage Slaw


  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 5 tsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sriracha (optional, or more to taste)
  • 1/4 head purple cabbage, sliced thin


  • Whisk everything but the cabbage together until completely combined.
  • Use your hands to toss the cabbage in the sauce until it’s completely coated.
  • Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving so the flavors can mingle and soak in.