Beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils are packed with fibre, protein, nutrients, and flavour. Their nutritional intensity, inexpensive accessibility, and ease of cooking have made them indispensible staples to cooks all over the globe.
Wherever we live we all do our best to make healthy choices at home but it’s a lot easier when those choices are delicious. These meatless tacos are stuffed with so much sunny southwestern flavour that no one will notice anything missing. What a great way for your family to join families around the world in a global celebration of flavour and nutrition!
Makes 12 tacos, Serves 4 to 6
For the pulse filling
2 tablespoons (30 mL) of canola oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 heaping tablespoon (18 mL) of chili powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) of ground cumin
1 cup (250 mL) of green lentils
A 19-ounce (540 mL) can of your favourite beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups (500 mL) of water
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of your favourite hot sauce
For the taco toppings
A head of Bibb or iceberg lettuce
12 hard taco shells
A few handfuls of grated cheddar or taco blend cheese Your favourite salsa
A large bunch of fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges
ONE: Make the lentil bean filling. Splash the canola oil into a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Sauté until the vegetables soften and the spice flavours brighten, 3 or 4 minutes.
TWO: Stir in the lentils, beans, water, and salt. Bring the works to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and continue slowly cooking until the lentils are tender, 35 minutes or so. Stir in the hot sauce.
THREE: Assemble the tacos. Fit a full leaf of lettuce into a hard taco shell. This will hold the fillings in when the hard shell inevitably breaks. Fill each taco with a heaping spoonful of the lentil bean filling. Pack with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges and share.
As one of Canada’s best-known chefs, Michael Smith, is a passionate advocate for simple, healthy and sustainable home cooking. He’s the host of Chef Michael’s Kitchen, Chef at Home and Chef Abroad seen on Food Network Canada, Global and in more than 100 other countries. He’s a judge on Chopped Canada and traveled the world for his innovative web series Lentil Hunter.