I’m dropping in briefly from my self-imposed hold-on-while-I-figure-out-life-with-three-kids hiatus to introduce you to someone special. Jenny is an old friend of mine whose many talents can be found over at A Thing Shared. Her knack for flavor is something special and her cheese board design is absolutely royal. Back in the day, when Jenny and I were both newlyweds, she invited me to take a cooking class with her. It was the first (and only) cooking class I’ve ever taken, and I have it to thank for everything I know about making homemade pesto. As a talented cook, and mom of three kids, Jenny has mastered the art of simple, healthy and tasty meals. Which is why I asked her to share a recipe with us – because we’re all about healthy easy in the kitchen. She came up with some delicious (and meatless) tacos that I will be whipping up in my chaotic kitchen tonight.
Folks, I give you Jenny…
Hi! I’m Jenny from the food blog A Thing Shared, and an old friend of Natalie’s. I look to her site for inspiration on all things health and fitness, so I’m excited to get to add a quick, nourishing recipe to this space.
These lentil tacos are a great alternative to the traditional ground meat most of us use for Taco Tuesdays. They certainly hold their own in terms of taste: they are spicy, hearty, and stick-to-your-ribs. But if you need an additional reason to get on board with a lentil taco filling, you can consider it part of an effort to eat just a little less meat, benefitting both our bodies and the environment. In my family we are all carnivores, but I’m becoming increasingly interested in this movement toward “reducitarianism,” so these tacos are a step in that direction. (And lentils are cheap! Less than $2 for 14 servings!).
Lentils, unlike other dried beans, cook quickly and don’t need a pre-soak. So they are the perfect option for a weeknight dinner. But if you really want to streamline your time in the kitchen, you can buy pre-cooked vacuum-packed lentils from Trader Joe’s or canned lentils from most other markets. For this recipe, I like lentils that retain their shape well after cooking, so I stick to green, brown, or black lentils (the black lentils from Whole Foods are my absolute favorite!).
Once you’ve got your cooked lentils, you season them with just a few basic spices (nothing overly complicated comes out of my kitchen if I can help it) and then add some chopped walnuts, which provide a little bit of texture and richness.
Aside from preparing the lentils, there’s not much left to do for this meal besides assembling the tacos. Of course the usual taco toppings of lettuce and cheese would work great with this filling, but I like to use a combination of julienned radishes and feta. The radishes are peppery and crunchy, and the feta is salty and crumbly, so they provide a nice balance to each other. And of course these tacos wouldn’t be complete without avocado — what taco would be?
You may just want to double this lentil filling recipe while you’re at it… it freezes beautifully so you can enjoy tacos again in a few weeks. Or you can use it later in the week spooned over a sweet potato, or in a rice bowl with an over-easy egg.
Lentil-Walnut Tacos from A Thing Shared
- About 8 ounces, or two cups, dried lentils (green, brown, or black)
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp dried oregano, crushed
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅔ cup walnuts, chopped into small pieces
- Corn tortillas
- 1 small bunch radishes
- 4 ounces crumbled feta
- 2 avocados, pitted, removed from skin, and sliced
- Cook lentils according to package directions. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add spices and walnuts, and stir to combine. Add salt and adjust to taste.
- Julienne radishes by slicing radishes into rounds about ⅛ inch thick, then stack rounds and cut into thin sticks.
- Prepare tacos: Warm corn tortillas in a saute pan over medium heat. Fill with lentils, radishes, feta, and sliced avocado.
Makes 4 cups cooked lentils, or 12 tacos. Cooked lentils can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.
Thanks for the dinner idea Jenny! Thankfully I’ve got a package of steamed lentils in my fridge… because girlfriend is taking all the shortcuts she can these days.