August 9, 2011

Meatless Monday: Lentil Taco Night

Guest post from MG!

Today was the second week we attempted to do a meatless Monday. I would say it qualified as very successful. We decided to try Esther’s friend’s lentil taco recipe. I made my normal fajita vegetables (famous for filling apartments with smoke) and made quite a meal. While we may be omnivores at heart, only two Mondays in and Esther already said “I love meatless Mondays.”

The trick to making something you’re familiar with without meat is, in my opinion, to not pretend like it’s meat. This recipe uses lentils to get plenty of protein and then it’s up to you to provide the flavor. Since these were tacos, I focused on the cumin, oregano and chile powder in the recipe and added some cayenne. There was a sizable amount of garlic thrown in too. We also used vegetable Better Than Bouillon, so technically this recipe was vegan...until we added queso fresco.

This recipe is great is you have, for instance, a reformed-vegan (vegetarian) sister, relatives who keep kosher or someone who is skeptical about lentils.

Lentil Tacos
Adapted from Heather’s Lentil Taco Recipe

minced garlic (I did about 5 cloves)
1/2 to 3/4 tbsp ground cumin*
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 small onion, diced
1 cup lentils, soaked for about 45 minutes
2 cups chicken or veggie stock (I used vegetable flavor Better than Boullion)
corn tortillas

Optional toppings:
chopped onion
queso fresco
cilantro (if you are on Esther’s side of this debate)

Over medium heat, cover the bottom of a saute pan (one you have a lid for) with oil (~1 tbsp). Saute the garlic, spices and onion together for about 2 minutes. Add the lentils and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in the stock and let the mixture come to a boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to low and let simmer for about fifteen minutes.** Once the lentils are cooked, remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce, about 10 more minutes. You are looking for a thick texture, one that, say, doesn’t ooze out the end of a tortilla.

Makes 6-10 tacos (really depends on the size of your tortillas)

You can put these lentils on any kind of tortillas (we used corn).*** To warm up your tortillas quickly, place them on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel, and microwave for 30 seconds. Top with whatever fixings you like. We used chopped onion, radishes, avocado, lime, salsa, spicy pickled carrots and queso fresco.

*Spices are all to taste and I threw in about a teaspoon of salt because I find lentils bland. Another thing I did was let a bay leaf steep in the broth while I waited to add it to the pot.
**You can also use unsoaked lentils - they will need to cook for about 1 hour. Just make sure to rinse them first!
***There is a reason taquerias give you two corn tortillas per taco, and it isn't a conspiracy by ConAgra. Those things are not very strong and you may end up with a mess if you try to just use one.

A good way to end taco night.

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