Lentil Tacos

lentil tacosThere are joys and frustrations that come with being one among many vegan food bloggers. The joy, of course, is witnessing a virtual food revolution — one in which so many amazing vegan home cooks have found a venue for sharing delicious and beautiful vegan recipes with the world — for free! As an advocate for animal welfare and for health, it has been wonderful to witness the explosion of vegan food blogging in recent years. I love that those curious about meatless meals, meat alternatives and healthy eating have such a rich array of options to choose from, and that they don’t have to buy loads of books or do tons of research to find answers.

The downside to this explosion is that at times I think I’ve come up with a killer and unique recipe, only to find that a quick Google search reveals dozens of other versions of the idea — an idea that seemingly every other food blogger already thought of before I did.

Such was the case with these tacos. For too long, I’d been dreaming of creating a lentil taco filling that was both hearty and healthy. I also wanted something that could serve a crowd and that was above all relatively easy to prepare. I Googled lentil tacos to see what sort of ideas were already swarming out there. There were quite a few, so I decided to lay off my idea for the time being.

But curiosity got the best of me, as I was still interested in how a lentil taco filling would compare to its more meaty counterparts. And I figured, if I’m going to make a recipe, I’d rather have it be something with my own twist. Lucky for me, whatever twists I added turned out to be delicious.

How delicious? You’ll have to make them yourself to find out. But I will say that those expecting a perfect replica for meat will be disappointed.  They do not taste like meat, they taste like lentils. Still, once you can appreciate the beauty of this taste, you will then be able to enjoy the subtle smokiness of the smoked paprika in this dish, and the savory aroma of onion and garlic. You’ll appreciate the crunch of a hard taco shell against the soft lentil filling. You’ll love how this filling is both delicious on its own, but equally delicious with a wide variety of toppings, such as creamy avocado, spicy salsa, crunchy onion, and aromatic cilantro. And you’ll probably go back for seconds, like I did. Best of all, these are super healthy. Not including any oil from the taco shells, these tacos are oil free (and virtually fat-free), soy free, nut free and, of course, vegan.

And if it’s variety you’re looking for, well, the internet will help out with that. Here are some other lentil taco recipes from bloggers that look quite delicious as well:

Lentil Tacos:

Makes enough taco filling for about 4-6 people

Recommended Accompaniments: 

Hard taco shells (most are gluten-free but read labels; soft corn tortillas could also work but I like the crunch with this dish)*

Salsa for serving (plus more for recipe below)

Diced Avocado

Cilantro

Sliced red onion

For best results, follow directions on package for heating taco shells prior to serving. Soft tortillas will keep this dish low-fat and oil-free. 

Ingredients for Filling:

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 3/4 cup vegetable broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup small brown lentils, rinsed and picked over

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8-1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 cup salsa

Directions:

1. In a saute pan or non-stick skillet, saute onion over medium-high heat in 1/4 cup vegetable broth until soft and translucent, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, lentils, 2 cups vegetable broth, spices and sea salt. Reduce heat to medium and cover pan. Simmer over medium heat until liquid is mostly gone, about 25-30 minutes.

2. Uncover pan and add salsa and another 1/2 cup vegetable broth. Over medium heat, simmer, uncovered, for another 10-15 minutes until most of the liquid is gone, or until desired consistency is reached. Mixture should not be soupy, but will not be dry, either. Add salt to taste, if desired.

3. Serve taco filling in taco shells with desired toppings.

 

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