Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lentil Tacos for Two

As an educator, September always signals the start of the new year for me.  Even though I work year round, the longer more relaxed days of summer seem to come to a halt. The back to school buzz drones on.  I start shopping for new materials for my students, clean up my office, and splurge on a fancy new weekly planner.  I nail down my new schedule, overdose on colorful post-its, and relish in crossing off any number of items on my to do lists.  The organization seems to carry over at home and I become a bit more systematic in my cooking approach as well.  This is when I latch onto some of my favorite dinners; the ones I know so well I don't need to bother following a recipe.  Tacos make the cut.

We have taco night once a week in our house. On the night my husband gets together with his old friends to play street hockey, we have tacos before he heads out the door.  I'm not sure when or how this routine came to be.  I think in most homes, it's nice to have a routine to grasp onto amid the revolving busy weeks.  I never have to think twice about what I'm making on this night.  I remember hearing somewhere that people have about seven dinners in their repertoire they rotate each and every week.  Something tells me most families have tacos on that list.  For those of you in households where one is a vegetarian and the other is not; this is a great dinner you both can share with one minor tweak.  I have these lentil tacos, which make great leftovers for the next day's lunch, and my husband has chicken tacos.  They're easy, quick, and they're fun.  

A medley of lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and red onions overflow tiny little bowls at our filling station.  I'll put on a big pot of quinoa or brown rice to serve alongside.  We had this routine in my house growing up too.  Something about building your own little portable dinner always sat well with me, being in charge of my own fillings, making it just the way I like it.  Red lentils cook up pretty quickly.  I don't mess with them too much.  I add an onion, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder, and let them simmer away as I get going on the toppings.  Fill soft or hard taco shells with the lentils and get busy adding all those colorful varieties of vegetables on top.  I like to use blue corn taco shells.  Sometimes I'll even stuff the quinoa or brown rice right inside my taco too.  It makes for a protein and fiber packed dinner.  Who knows, if you haven't already incorporated a taco night in your weekly menu, maybe you'll give it a try.

~Lentil Tacos for Two Recipe~

1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 cup vegetable broth or water

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for a few minutes until it softens. Take off the heat for a moment and add red lentils, cumin, chili powder, and garlic.  Add vegetable broth and water and return to heat, stirring to combine the spices with the lentils and onion.  Bring up to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 30-35 minutes until the lentils are cooked through.  You may need to add additional broth or water to compensate for the absorption if you find your lentils need more time.

Spoon lentil mixture into individual tacos and add your favorite toppings.  Serves 2.  (Depending on how full you stuff each taco, you should get about 2-3 tacos per person).  If you are making these for one, do what I do, and store the leftovers in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch.


Sue/the view from great island said...

I'm bookmarking this. My mother never made tacos, and so I have to remind myself to make them. What I like about this recipe is that I normally have everything in my cupboard, as long as I remember to stock up on the taco shells.
I could never do that rotating 7 dinners thing, though. I'm constantly craving new things, mostly stuff that I don't have around. I basically live at the supermarket!

Stephanie said...

Thanks Sue! I always have these things in my pantry too. I couldn't do the 7 dinners either...but I do tacos every week! Like you, I am always trying new things too. I love finding new ingredients and thinking up new ideas.

Anonymous said...

Ohhh these look so good, Stephanie! My boyfriend, who doesn't eat anything "healthy" sounding out of principle and who is the farthest thing from a vegetarian, looked at these and said, "oh wow those look really good." (!!) Lentils sound delicious but I like how this type of dish is open to additions like chicken, too.

Stephanie said...

Thanks Amy. Haha that's a great compliment then ;) My husband is the same way! Mexican food is so easily adaptable like that. I always try to sneak in beans and lentils. It's really the toppings I love too.

Sam, Amy, and Owen said...

Hey, Stephanie! I just came across your blog and I LOVE it! I'm always searching for more ways to use fresh, local ingredients and your site is very inspiring. Can't wait to start cooking! Thank you!

Stephanie said...

Hi there, so glad to hear it! Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Happy cooking :)