I’ve been looking for a satisfactory taco concept since I became vegetarian, and these, which germinated from a seed in some blog’s comments that I can no longer find, are it.
- 1/2 c each black (beluga) lentils and brown lentils
- 1 bell pepper (or 1/2 ea red and green, for color), chopped small
- 1 medium onion, chopped small
- Oil for sauteing
- Mexican spice mix to taste (~3 tbsp)
- Water for cooking (2 c)
- Taco topping material: chopped tomatoes, shredded cheddar, minced scallions, shredded lettuce or chopped cilantro, sour cream, whatever you like
- Taco shells (or chips or tortillas (lard-free) if you prefer)
Cook lentils in 1 c water each, until tender, 30-40 minutes or as instructed on the package (black may take longer). Drain the brown, drain and reserve the cooking liquid from the black.
During the last cooking phase, chop the vegetables. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Saute 30 seconds, then add some spice mix. Continue sauteing until beginning to become translucent. Add the peppers, saute until looking lightly cooked. Add the lentils and more spice mix, and a little of the reserved cooking water. Cook for 5-10 min, adding more cooking water as needed, and spice as desired. When the brown lentils are a pasty base for the mixture, you’re done. Serve garnished with toppings. 6-8 servings.
The lentil mixture is designed to have some resemblance to the texture of ground beef, with its little round nuggets of meat, while having enough integrity to stick together. The black lentils are the nuggets, set in the brown base, and will be firmer and hold their shape more after cooking. They also have a heartier taste — some people say meatier, but they don’t taste like meat, so I think that’s not accurate.
Black lentils can be difficult to obtain, and the recipe can be executed with just brown, or possibly any other type, though I haven’t tried. I get the black lentils at Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, from the bulk section.