Monday Night Meal: Vegan Lentil Tacos

Lachelle Cunningham is the executive chef and co-owner of Breaking Bread Café in North Minneapolis. She also owns her own catering business called, Chelles’ Kitchen. She stopped by to share a very simple dinner recipe that’s perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

For more information about Chelles’ Kitchen, click here.

Vegan Lentil Tacos

Taco Seasoning
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1 tsp. Sea Salt

Ingredients for Tacos
1/3 cup quinoa (red, black or rainbow)
2/3 cup water
1 Tbsp. grapeseed (or canola) oil
1/2 cup + 1/8 cup finely diced onion
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
3/4 cup dried brown lentils
1 cup fresh or canned diced tomatoes
2 cups mushroom OR vegetable broth (OR water)
2 medium avocados, halved and pitted
1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups fresh tomato salsa (see recipe below)
2-3 cups napa cabbage or green leaf lettuce, chopped
5 green onions, sliced thin on a bias
2 limes, cut into wedges
10 taco shells

1. Mix together taco seasoning ingredients and set aside.
2. Bring 2/3 cup of water to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa to the pot and turn the heat down to low. Simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes or until tender and the quinoa kernels pop.
3. While quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add 1/2 cup of diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
4. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute until garlic starts to brown.
5. Add 2-3 Tbsp taco seasoning and cook for 2 minutes.
6. Add 1 cup fresh or canned diced tomatoes and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
7. Add dried lentils and sauté for another 30 seconds, then pour in the 2 cups mushroom or vegetable broth or water. Allow the mixture to come to a boil over medium heat. Boil, uncovered for 10 minutes.
8. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to medium-low, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
9. Mix cooked quinoa into the lentil mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste
10. Scoop the avocado halves into a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Add the remaining 1/8 cup diced onion, 1 cup of halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro leaves, and lime juice. Mix well; taste, and add salt and pepper to taste.
11. Build the tacos by dividing the lentil mixture among the taco shells. Top with guacamole, salsa, chopped cabbage or lettuce, green onions, 1-2 lime wedges and serve.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

7 tomatoes, quartered
½ onion, quartered
2-3 jalapeños, seeded and quartered
1 poblano pepper, quartered
2 garlic cloves
¼ bunch cilantro
¼ tsp cumin
Juice and zest 2 Limes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse to desired (chunky or smooth) consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in a non-reactive container. Keeps in refrigerator for up to a week.

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