Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tacos with Spicy & Smoky Lentil Taco 'Meat' + Simple Salsa

Warm weather puts me in the mood for hot and spicy Mexican food. Give me some migas, chiliquiles, guacamole, torta, stuffed chilies, whatever, as long as it's spicy and comes with something nice and cold to drink.

I think this one is one of the simplest and tastiest mushroom meat recipes out there due to a double infusion of smoke from the chipotle powder and smoked sun-dried tomatoes. It's very versatile as well. You could use this like I did in a taco, or it would also be great in a burrito or as stuffing for tamales. The texture of the lentils matches what most of us think of when we think of taco meat. In short, this is a must-try, so give it a shot.

Tacos with Spicy & Smoky Lentil Taco 'Meat' + Simple Salsa
(serves 4)

This is best served family-style with all of the following ingredients set out on the table. That way, each person can concoct his or her own taco to their own specifications. Personally, I like it all -- especially with a little drizzle of Valentina Black hot sauce.

Spicy & Smoky Lentil Taco Meat (recipe follows)
Simple Salsa (recipe follows)
12 small corn or flour tortillas or taco shells (warmed)
1 cup shredded smoked cheddar
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup chopped green onion
2 avocados (peeled and sliced)
1/4 cup sour cream
lime wedges
Valentina Black or your own favorite hot sauce

Spicy & Smoky Lentil Taco Meat

1 onion (diced)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup dry lentils (both brown and green)
1 1/2 cups water (or so)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup smoked sun dried tomatoes (finely chopped)

In a saucepan oner medium heat, sauté onion in the olive oil. Once the onion is translucent, add cumin, salt, and chili powders and allow to cook for about another minute. Add the remaining ingredients and bring it all up to a boil. Reduce mixture to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 30-45 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. (You want the lentils to be tender, but not falling apart.)

Simple Salsa

2 medium tomatoes
1 jalapeno pepper
2 cloves of garlic
lime zest
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

In a cast iron skillet over high heat, blacken the skin of the tomatoes and pepper on all sides while getting some caramel color on the outside of the garlic cloves. Next, throw all ingredients into a food processor and pulse 5-10 times or until ingredients are well incorporated, but not liquid. There you go: simple salsa.


  1. Oh Maan! This was GOOD! Seriously. On to the recipe, though...
    I couldn't find smoked sun dried tomatoes (I looked at WF and Kroger), so I used regular. They still added an amazing flavor (G2's words), but I'm sure the smoked would have been even better. I also only used green lentils because that's what I had. The lentil mixture took just past the 45 minute mark. I also added an additional 3/4 cup of water as they were cooking b/c they didn't seem to be getting tender enough even though all the liquid was absorbed. After the 45 minutes, they still had a pretty good bite, but were tender.

    The salsa was super easy and tasty and will most likely be my new go-to, especially in the summer when all of those veggies are at their peak. I had a little trouble initially blackening the tomatoes on all sides because they were rolling around the pan until I figured out to hold them in place with tongs for a few minutes on each side. I also read lime zest as zest of one lime, so I kind of over-limed it. But, this salsa on the lentil mix was really great (and kind of genius! Lentils! Who would've thought?).