Lentil Tacos

Lentil Tacos

(Recipe at bottom) I love me some tacos.  Really, any and every kind of taco.  But they’re not exactly extraordinarily healthy.  Neither are lentil tacos, but they’re pretty budget-friendly and they’re vegetarian, not all that common in the taco world.  Plus they are easy, the leftovers stay good forever, and they’re tasty.  When I was growing up, tacos consisted of ground meat+taco seasoning on either tortillas and shells with lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and sometimes avocados.  I still kind of have a thing for this combination.  I certainly like making more pretentious versions of tacos, but this type is comfort food to me, and so familiar. As such, it’s a good go-to for an easy dinner that makes tons of leftovers for lunches.

taco fixins

I went a little nontraditional with toppings… I added Feta to the roster, and swapped out the lettuce for some of Ivana’s “cruciferous crunch” that I’ve been munching on for the last week and a half.  This shit’s amazing.  It’s a combination of shredded brussels sprouts, green cabbage, red cabbage, fennel, and kale.  And it lasts for freakin’ ever.  She made like 3 gallons of it for only a few dollars also.  Just watch out if you’re sharing a bed with someone who’s eating volumes of this stuff. lol

cruciferous crunch

Anyway, get started on your lentils.  I used green lentils because they retain some texture and don’t cook down to an indistinguishable mush.  The texture of cooked green lentils is actually not that dissimilar to the texture of cooked ground taco meat. So there.  You want to start with an onion.  chop it up and saute it in a little butter, olive oil, sunflower oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.  Basically any good oil that’s not all freaky and chemically extracted (I’m looking at you, canola oil!)  Anyway, soften your onion, then stir in a few cloves of minced garlic.

sweating onions

minced garlic

While your onion is sweating and your garlic is cooking, get to prepping your lentils.  You just want to rinse the crap out of them basically.  That’ll allow any weird ones to float away, and hopefully help you to determine if you have any stones in the mix.  Probably remove those if you do.

rinsing lentils

rinsing lentils

Then go ahead and add your lentils to the onion-garlic mixture (I’d say this was about 2 cups of dry lentils), then add liquid.  If you’re vegetarian, vegetable stock would be good.  We are not.  I used some chicken stock.  You could also use water, after all, you’re putting a whole bunch of taco seasoning in later anyway, it probably won’t make much of a difference, and we always have water on hand!. Maybe 3-4 cups of water.  Bring to a simmer, then drop the heat to medium-low.

cooking green lentils with onion and garlic

Cover the pan, let it simmer for 25-30 minutes, and taste a few to test done-ness.  If they’re nearly done (they should be), then go ahead and leave the lid off, and add some taco seasoning.  I seriously buy pre-made taco seasoning in those huge spice containers at costco.  I am aware I can make it myself, but honestly, this is easier, tastes fine, costs $4, and in the grand scheme of things, the chemical portion of the anti-caking agents and whatnot add up to practically zero in the grand scheme of chemical exposure.  I’m sure coloring my hair every 2 months and leaving makeup on my face all day, etc have a far bigger impact on me.  Anyway. Quit making excuses.  If you like to make your own seasoning, do that.  I use crap from a huge McCormick bottle and it works fine.  I started with a few tablespoons(ish), and then continued adding it til it tasted “right.”

Taco lentils, cooking

Then I brought the heat up to medium and allowed them to simmer more vigorously to cook off extra liquid.

Taco Lentils

This is how they looked after they had cooked down.  Then it’s just a matter of filling your tacos, and adding all the toppings you want. I photographed this as soft tacos, but I think I actually prefer them as a taco salad.  I make a bed of cruciferous crunch, add some spinach on top of it, heat up some lentils with a little cheese, then add those to the top, and make a dressing out of sour cream mixed with salsa and avocado chunks.  Easy, peasy, and delicious. I’ve been eating taco salads for lunch all week! Bonus points for nachos!

lentil tacos

Recipe:
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups green lentils
4 cups water, broth, or stock
4-8 tablespoons taco seasoning

Toppings:
Avocado, diced and topped with lime juice
Sour cream
Shredded cheddar cheese
Feta (if desired)
Salsa or pico de gallo
Greens of some sort
Hot sauce (if desired)

*Soften onion for 4-5 minutes, then add in garlic.
*Rinse lentils, then add them to pot with liquid
*Simmer covered 25-30 minutes, then add taco seasoning to taste
*Continue to simmer, uncovered, until liquid has disappeared
*Build Tacos, taco salad, nachos, etc
*Enjoy

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