Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spicy & Smoky Lentil Taco 'Meat'

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 thought I was brilliant coming up with lentil taco meat, but like Mr. Shakespeare said, "There is nothing new under the sun." There are a million similar recipes out there, but I think this one is one of the simplest and probably among the tastiest due to a double infusion of smoke from the chipotle powder and smoked sun-dried tomatoes.

This is a very versatile recipe. You could use this like I did in a taco, or it'd be great in a burrito, or even as a stuffing for tamales. The texture of the lentils matches what most of us think of when we think of taco meat, so there's no need to buy that expensive and fattening fake meat. In short, this is a must-try, so give it a shot.

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

12 small corn or flour tortillas or taco shells (warmed)
lentil taco meat*
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
simple salsa**

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

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 a minute more. 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 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. Throw all ingredients into a food processor and pulse 5-10 times or until ingredients are well incorporated, but not liquid.


And Live said...

This sounds amazing. I need to find some smoked sundried tomatoes.. I haven't ever seen them before. Do you think some liquid smoke put into marinated ones would be able to duplicate the flavor?

Andy said...

Oh this looks wonderful! I'll have to give it a try soon. I adore vegan tacos, and I'm planning to throw a vegan taquisa this summer! If this works out, I'm sure it'll make it onto the table :)

(From a long-time reader of the blog--I haven't made anything yet, but I drool juuust a bit whenever I see a new post from you!)

The Chubby Vegetarian said...

I think liquid smoke would work, however I'm a bigger fan of smoked salt or smoked garlic. I don't care how you manage to get smoke flavor in there, just get it in there. Smoke + beans = awesome!

Staycie said...

you've inspired me to make tacos today. this looks delicious.

Sarah S. said...

Hey, thanks for the link! I love your version of lentil taco meat. I've never seen smoked sun dried tomatoes, but I'm officially on a mission to find them. Awesome!

Christine said...

If you can't find the smoked dried tomatoes, I'm obsessed with smoked paprika and it lends that same deep quality. Gonna try these this week!

And Live said...

I love smoked paprika. Don't know why I didn't think of that. Thanks, Christine!

Bianca said...

Yum! I love lentils, so I'm sure this is fantabulous. But fake meat, though pricey, isn't actually fattening at all. :-) That said, I'm certain the lentil meat is much better for you!

courtney said...

So excited to try this! I think I will bring it to work next week for our Cinco de Mayo potluck!

Tiffany C. said...

Wow. Yum, yum, yum. I have 2 or 3 bags of lentils that I will be putting to good use soon. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I need a taco night now. Loving the combo of lentils and smokey sun dried tomatoes.

Sandra (Sam) said...

Made this tonight. Oh so yummy!!! While I'm not a vegetarian, I love veggie recipes for the lower calorie count. And this has mass amounts of fiber too, so even better! I'll be making it again!

katy killilea said...

making this! yum.

Margaret said...

I love the idea of shredded cabbage instead of shredded iceberg (which is gross)!

Anonymous said...

Amazing! My vegetarian son and his girlfriend loved it. The biggest surprise was my husband who thinks if it doesn't have meat it isn't real food. He enjoyed it also. I will make again and again. Good flavor and so easy! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Made this for my family on Sunday and making it again tonight.
(super bowl nacho's & winter olypmpic taco's) Thanks SO much!!

Anonymous said...