M and I have been searching for healthy new recipes to try that don't rely so heavily on my staples: carbs, carbs and more carbs. Oh, and cheese. (Worst vegetarian ever.)
My favorite vegan recommended I check out Appetitie for Reduction by the girl genius behind Post Punk Kitchen. (Appetite for Reduction and Veganomicon are now on their way to my mailbox courtesy of Amazon. Holla.) Vegetarian cooking can become very blah and unhealthy if you aren't careful, and I have definitely failed to check myself in this respect. Don't get my wrong: I generally walk away from the table quite pleased and stuffed out of my mind. But one of the main reasons I stick to a veggie diet is because I understand the health benefits when done right.
I was elated with the results of my experiment last night in tackling a new recipe using an ingredient I've never before played with: lentils. I was inspired by PPK's Ancho Lentil Taco recipe to create a fresh, healthy dish that made me say, "Nom" and "Ahh" at the same time.
Delicioso Vegetarian Tacos
1.5 cups dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet organic taco seasoning
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp tomato paste
1.) Boil 2 parts water to your lentils (I started with 3 cups of water here) in a sauce pan over med-high heat, then add rinsed lentils to boiling water. (DO NOT ADD SALT. I know it's tempting, but I read everywhere that salt will make your lentils tough, and I assure you, good lentils don't need much of it anyway.) Boil lentils for about 3 minutes to aid in digestion. (I saw this tip online and it seemed to work.)
2.) Reduce to a simmer and cook covered for approx. 20 minutes, checking a few times to ensure water level has not fallen below lentils. (If it does, just add some more hot water to cover.)
3.) Once lentils are softened, remove from heat and drain liquid. At this point, you can add a little sea salt if you so desire.
4.) In a saute pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking for about 3 minutes until softened. (I also added a few pinches of crushed red pepper flakes because I heart them.)
5.) Add taco seasoning mix to onions and garlic and stir for about 30 seconds to roast.
6.) Stir in lentils and tomato paste, adding a few splashes of water as needed to keep the mix from getting dry. Smash the lentils with a fork for about 5 minutes (as though you're making mashed potatoes) to get a thicker and more meaty consistency.
I served my seasoned lentils on warmed corn tortillas with a garnish plate of chopped tomatoes, chives, cilantro (this is a must!), cubed avocado, lime wedges and Tofutti Better than Sour Cream. I also set out a plate with some Austin salsa and Hint of Lime tortilla chips, which complimented the dish nicely.
This was delicious, y'all! M loved it as well (and I don't think he was just being nice). Next time I'll probably add some hot sauce to the mix (which the original recipe wisely called for, but I wussed out) and maybe minced jalapenos for garnish to spice it up a bit. This yielded more than enough for two people, but I'm glad to have leftovers to make nachos on the fly or throw over some greens for a hearty taco salad.