Tacos With Spicy, Smoky Lentils 4.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post

Weeknight Vegetarian Jan 8, 2014

Authors Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence, the duo behind the Chubby Vegetarian blog, originally called for smoked sun-dried tomatoes in this recipe in an effort to layer the smoky flavors; those might be hard to find, but a dash of Spanish pimenton and regular sun-dried tomatoes does the job.

Make Ahead: The cooked lentils can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost and/or reheat over low heat before using.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped (drained, if oil-packed)
  • 3/4 cup roasted salsa of your choice, homemade (such as Blackened Salsa, under related recipes) or store-bought
  • 12 small corn tortillas, flour tortillas or taco shells, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • 4 large scallions, chopped
  • Flesh of 1 avocado, sliced or cubed
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Lime wedges

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Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and stir to coat; cook until it is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin, salt, smoked paprika and chili powders and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste, sesame oil, lentils, water, vinegar and sun-dried tomatoes; increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so the mixture is barely bubbling, cover, and cook until all of the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are tender but not falling apart, 30 to 40 minutes. (If the lentils are dry before they become tender, add water 1/3 cup at a time and continue cooking.)

Serve family-style, setting out the lentils, salsa, tortillas, cheese, cabbage, scallions, avocado, sour cream and limes in separate bowls on the table and allowing diners to assemble their own tacos.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "The Southern Vegetarian," by Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence (Thomas Nelson, 2013).

Tested by Sandhya Babu and Joe Yonan.

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