When you make tacos, do you take the time to methodically assemble a perfect concoction with just the right ratio of ingredients carefully placed in each taco shell?
Or do you favor my daughter’s approach and simply mash all your ingredients together in one big pile on your plate and dig in?
While I pride myself on my ability to not only assemble the perfect taco but to also delicately consume the masterpiece without dropping chunks on my plate – okay, I might be stretching the truth a bit – I do value the convenience and sensibility of a good taco salad.
This lentil taco salad recipe uses protein packed lentils in the place of meat and crispy strips of corn tortillas instead of taco shells.
Lentil Taco “Meat”
The lentil taco "meat" is prepared in a rice cooker – so it requires very little attention, other than an occasional stir…
I recommend mixing your own taco seasoning. Here's a quick recipe I found on Allrecipes.com.
Lentil Taco "Meat"
- 1 cup brown or green lentils
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
- ½ medium onion chopped
- 1 tbs dried parsley
- 1 tbs taco seasoning or more to taste (see recipe link above)
- 2 ⅔ cups water
- Rinse and sort lentils and then place in rice cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix.
- Close lid and cook on white rice setting.
- Midway through cooking (after about 20 minutes) carefully open lid and stir ingredients a few times with a long handled wooden spoon. (Avoid coming into contact with escaping steam.)
- Close lid and continue cooking.
- When the cooking cycle ends, open the lid and stir ingredients a few times and then close and let sit for 10 minutes on the keep-warm setting.
- Carefully transfer ingredients from rice cooker to a large bowl.
- Partially blend the mixture with 3-4 bursts of an immersion blender or place 1-2 cups in a blender or food processor, mix then return to the bowl and stir.
- Use in the place of meat in tacos, salads, burritos and more!
Crispy Corn Tortilla Strips
A pizza screen offers an easy way to make tortilla strips in your toaster oven – without any added oil!
Crispy Corn Tortilla Strips
- 2 corn tortillas
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- ½ tbs taco seasoning
- Stack tortillas and cut in half with a sharp knife or pizza cutter, then cut each half into ¼ inch strips.
- Place strips in a one-gallon plastic bag, drizzle with lime juice and shake in bag to distribute moisture evenly.
- Add taco seasoning to bag and shake until tortilla strips are coated evenly.
- Arrange tortilla strips in a single layer on a pizza screen and place in toaster oven.
- Toast on the darker side of medium for approximately 3 ½ minutes.
- Enjoy as a snack or as a soup or salad topping.
Lentil Taco Salad
Making this lentil taco salad is a breeze once you have the lentil taco “meat” and corn tortilla strips prepared!
Perfect for lunch or dinner - enjoy the colorful combination of:
- A healthy bed of dark leafy greens
- Spicy lentils
- Crunchy veggies
- Creamy guacomole
- Salty black olives
topped with crispy corn tortilla strips and a kick of taco sauce.
Lentil Taco Salad - Vegan and GF
- ⅔ cups lentil taco “meat” see recipe above
- 1 ½ cups packed baby romaine chopped
- 1 tbs chopped red onion
- ¼ cup chopped orange or yellow bell pepper
- 5 grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 tbs sliced black olives
- ¼ avocado mashed
- ½ tbs salsa I like Chi Chi’s mild
- 1 handful of crispy corn tortilla strips see recipe above
- 1 tbs taco sauce I like the Chi Chi’s brand
- Stir ½ tbs of salsa into mashed avocado and set aside.
- Arrange baby romaine in a pasta bowl and top with lentil taco “meat.”
- Add chopped onion, pepper, tomato, black olives and top with mashed avocado mixture.
- Sprinkle crispy corn tortillas on top, add a few shakes of taco sauce and enjoy!
Note: I do not include nutrition information with my recipes because I subscribe to the theories presented in the book Whole and believe we should focus on eating a variety of whole foods instead of counting calories or keeping track of individual nutrients.
Thalia @ butter and brioche
Tacos definitely are a methodical science and there is an art to creating the perfect one! I love this deconstructed "taco" salad and must make it. Delicious!
Thanks Thalia - Let me know how you like it! I'm actually making the lentil taco "meat" to bring to a friend's this evening. She's serving tacos and mojitos and was concerned about having a vegan option... I bet mojitos would go well with this salad too! Ha ha
I LOVE that you replaced the meat with lentils! I'm a huge fan of them, so to me this is perfection! Seriously clever and i will be trying this taco salad out for sure! Thanks for sharing! P.s. I'm like your daughter, I'm a mix n' masher ♡
Thanks! Sometimes I think the mix and mash approach tastes better! My daughter is a clever girl. 😉
I don't have a rice cooker. any ideas on how to cook the lentil "meat" on the stove or in a crockpot?
I would probably go the stove route rather than a crockpot. Add the ingredients to a sauce pan and bring them to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium low and allow them to a simmer gently. Keep the pan partially covered so the steam can escape. Unlike a rice cooker, you will need to keep an eye on it to be sure the lentils don't cook dry before they are done. You may need to add additional water and give them a stir here and there. It will likely take about 30 minutes for them to cook on the stove top. Test for doneness by tasting, they should be soft but not mushy - be careful not to burn yourself!
Was so glad to see this response as I had the same question. I figured using the old fashion way of stovetop would work just fine...just gotta keep an eye on it. Thank you for this recipe.
You're welcome Allenia! Enjoy!
I have made this several times now and I love it! It definitely satisfies a taco salad craving.
That's wonderful to hear! Thanks for sharing Jen. 🙂
I actually repurposed some Lentils with Kidney beans that I made in the crockpot for another recipe. This was a great recipe. Thank you!
Glad you enjoyed it! Love it when you can repurpose recipes! 🙂
I love this!! I've recently started fully eating vegetarian and I was so sad that I couldn't have tacos, but these are PHENOMENAL! Thanks for sharing 🙂
So glad you enjoyed the recipe! A life without tacos would be a sad life indeed. 🙂
I'm a little confused but this recipe sounds delicious so I want to get it right! I don't have a rice cooker either, so in looking at the stove top directions you provided in another comment, I'm wondering if that is for dry lentils? I have several cans of cooked lentils in my pantry. If I use the canned lentils do I still follow the stovetop directions? Thank you!
Hi Christine! Yes - the stove top directions are for dry lentils. If you have canned lentils you could just try heating the ingredients together... Just enough so the flavors meld. Let me know how it goes!
I made this and the lentils were absolutely delicious! I am a beginner cook and your instructions were very simple and easy to follow along.
One question would be how would you recommend reheating the lentils?
Hi Tianna - glad you enjoyed it and found the instructions easy to follow. I remember how scary it can be when you are first learning to cook! 🙂 I would simply pop the lentils into the microwave to reheat. (Time would depend on quantity.) I know some folks are anti-microwave, but I'm not one of them. 🙂 If you prefer not to use a microwave, you could try reheating them on medium heat on the stove top - stirring occasionally until heated through.
This recipe looks delicious- but I don't have a rice cooker. Is there something I can use instead to cook the lentils?
Hi Meghan - good news! You can make the lentils on your stove top. Add the ingredients to a sauce pan and bring them to a boil over medium high heat then reduce heat to medium low and allow them to a simmer gently. Keep the pan partially covered so the steam can escape. Unlike a rice cooker, you will need to keep an eye on it to be sure the lentils don’t cook dry before they are done. You may need to add additional water and give them a stir here and there. It will likely take about 30 minutes for them to cook on the stove top. Test for doneness by tasting, they should be soft but not mushy – be careful not to burn yourself! 🙂