Woah! There has been so much love for the Bay Vegetarian! Our facebook page already has just under 160 “likes” and this blog almost 600 views (nearly 300 visitors) in less than a day! You are all pretty freakin’ amazing and I sincerely thank you. Honestly, wow! In gratitude, I want to give you another tasty recipe that I hope you enjoy!
Alright, I know we’re in Newfoundland, but that doesn’t mean we’re not big fans of Mexican food. If we cannot escape to a warm climate like Mexico and are instead waist deep in snow, you might as well heat up your kitchen. This dish has kinda been my lazy winter go-to. It’s quick, easy, and nutritious (a 1 cup serving of cooked green lentils contains 3g of fiber, 7g of protein and 20% of your average daily iron intake). This meal can have lots of colours and vitamins with an array of toppings, and you can also make it as spicy as you want (and your congested, flu-ridden sinuses will thank you). Lentils and other legumes are a vegan/vegetarian’s best friend. Let’s have fun with them!
Tequila shots ready? Here we go!
1c dry green lentils. Rinse them in cold water and pick out any discoloured ones.
-Put lentils in a pot with 1c water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a low simmer. Put a timer on for 20min, keeping an eye on the lentils as you may have to add a little bit of water every now and then- you want to keep your lentils just barely covered in water (you may have to do this once or twice). Taste your lentils to be sure you have your desired tenderness when cooked- chewy but not mushy.
*If you added too much water, carefully boil off the excess.
-As the lentils cook, stir in some spices that you enjoy (garlic, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, etc.) Choose spices depending on hotness, what you’re in the mood for and what you can find. Of course, dry spices work fine. Don’t add salt– wait till the end as salt will make your lentils tough if added too early.
*I’ve even just added the spices from those low-sodium taco kits toward the end but I usually just use whatever’s in the cupboard and salt-free. If you do use taco kit seasoning, try adding it toward the end of your lentil cook time, and you really only need half the package or less as it’s super salty. But if that’s what you’re looking for- hey, it’s taco night. Live a little.
-Next, heat up your taco shells in the oven at 350 degrees or so. I like standing them on a cooking stone, open end down so that they don’t fold together or crack when heating. Be careful to not burn them- you want them just heated through and crispy.
*I often use the “smart” low sodium hard shells that you can buy in a taco kit from any corner store it seems or even gas station, but you can also make soft tacos and use small tortillas instead. See what you can find and pick out whichever one tickles your fancy.
-Chop some fixings for the tacos. I really, really love raw red cabbage as it is high in nutrients and minerals (tons of vitamin C, A, E, amino acids and more), it looks beautiful and gives your tacos a really great crunch. Shredded lettuce is also a fan favourite, as is spinach, chopped tomatoes, diced bell peppers, and if you’re into cheese you can also grate some to add in. Some folks also choose to add sour cream, or alternatively plain greek yogurt. The last time I made this I added some chopped jalapeños to my lentils (got them in a jar next to the taco kit) and let it simmer for an extra 5 minutes for extra heat. A few diced banana peppers would also do the trick (you can usually find those in a glass jar in the condiments section)
-Get your shells out of the oven, spoon out your lentils, pile on the toppings and don’t forget your favourite salsa to top it all. Voila! You’re in taco-city! To complete this meal, feel free to cook some rice with hot spices in it as a side dish (brown rice if you can find it), or if you can find nice avocados (a challenge no matter where you live in Newfoundland) make some guacamole. To do this, cut an avocado in half, spoon out the contents into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add a bit of s&p, dash of lemon juice and chopped tomato if you like. That’s it!
Another option is to forgo the taco shells and add your toppings to a bowl of greens (lettuce, spinach, arugula, whatever)- easy taco salad! You can even crumble taco shells on top of your salad or use tortilla chips. Leftover lentils keep really well in the fridge and are great as a quick lunch the next day. Manage your time and you can have this dish cooked in 30 minutes easy and it makes approx. 6 or more tacos, depending on how full you like them. Yum b’y.
COOKING IS AWESOME TIP #1: As a way to unwind after your day, make supper cookin a time to relax. Have a gigantic glass of water (…or wine), turn on some music and really take your time. A bowl on your counter to collect all of your compost or trash makes clean up easier, as does rinsing dishes or giving them a wash as you go. Plus, please don’t feel the need to rush and clean everything up as soon as you’re done- you just cooked an awesome meal. Give yourself a break, sit back or get up and bop around to your tunes!