Tuesday, January 3, 2012

lentil tacos

My family has a history of heart disease so I try to keep the meat eating to a minimum in my house; which means I'm always looking for ways to swap meat out in recipes or simply for vegetarian recipes.  I found this recipe on allrecipes.com and liked that it uses lentils, cheaper than beef and a nutritional powerhouse.  I mean, lentils help lower your cholesterol, they're high in fiber, contain six important minerals, and are a low-calorie food!  If you have a die-hard beef eater in your house, they probably will turn their noses at this; but for the rest of us, it's filling and good for a simple weeknight meal.

Gather your ingredients: lentils, onion, garlic, taco seasoning, canola oil and vegetable broth (I don't know why I stuck the taco shells in there).

Saute the onion in the oil until translucent; add the garlic and saute for a few minutes then add the lentils and taco seasoning.

Add the vegetable broth, stir and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cover.

Meanwhile, gather your toppings: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, shredded cheese, diced olives, avocado or really, anything you like.

When the lentils are cooked through, add the salsa and mash them slightly with your spoon.

Fill your taco shells and eat!  Notice how messy my tacos are.

Notice how perfectly filled my husband's tacos are; how does he manage to out-do me?!

Lentil Tacos 
slightly adapted from this recipe

1 cup finely chopped onion (about half a large onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
homemade taco seasoning (recipe to follow)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup salsa
taco shells
toppings to your liking: shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, diced olives, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, avocado, etc.

In a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat, saute the onion until translucent; add garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add lentils and taco seasoning; cook and stir for about 1 minute.  Add broth, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.  Check the lentils after 20 minutes; if the liquid has been absorbed, add another 1/2 cup of broth.  

Meanwhile prep your favorite toppings.

Uncover, cook for about 5 more minutes or until mixture is thickened.  Mash lentils slightly.
Stir in 1/2 cup salsa.  Spoon lentils into taco shells and add your toppings.  Eat!

Here is the recipe for homemade taco seasoning I've been using for over 4 years now.  Discovering this recipe was like discovering Machu Picchu!  Ok, maybe not; but it felt like I had come across some culinary secret that I was now privy to and I've never been the same since.  If you don't like spicy foods too much, cut back on the chili powder.  Otherwise, it's a perfect swap for the expensive packets you find at the grocery store.

Homemade Taco Seasoning
you can find the original recipe here

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt (if you use regular table salt, reduce to about 1/2 teaspoon; otherwise it will be too salty)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all of the ingredients.  If using later, store in an airtight container.


  1. Oh... that looks delicious! I am totally going to try it - we are always making alternative dinners and this looks perfect :)

    1. Yay! Just make sure you cook the lentils long enough. I've made this a couple of times and the first time the lentils were a bit crunchy - probably not the best for your digestive system.