A handful of surprising yet simple ingredients lend big flavor to these meatless smoky lentil tacos, adapted from Naturally Nourished by Sarah Britton.
I bought Sarah’s book especially for these smoky lentil tacos. After following her beautiful blog My New Roots for nearly a decade, I had the pleasure of hearing her speak about her new book Naturally Nourished: Healthy, Delicious Meals Made with Everyday Ingredients at Omnivore Books a few months ago along with my friend Mere. This turned out to be a momentous occasion for a variety of reasons, the first being that spending time in an all-cookbook bookstore is my heaven on earth. The second is that Sarah KNEW WHO I WAS before I introduced myself. The third was meeting Laura, a friend of Mere’s who fosters kittens, and I realized that kitten fostering is likely what I was put on this earth to do, being both obsessed with cats and having zero maternal instincts when it comes to human children. I’m hoping to start this month!
The fourth was, as you’ve probably guessed by now, these tacos, which Sarah cited as a favorite from the book during her talk. Sarah is an incredible public speaker, her smart, witty self shining in front of a crowd (unlike certain people who get so nervous they feel as though they’re babbling incoherently in gibberish and suddenly can’t recall a single recipe in the book they lived and breathed for two solid years). A certified nutritionist, Sarah knows a thing or two about healthful cooking, and she does a compelling job explaining kitchen science as it relates to health. Now I think about her every time I (guiltily) reach for a bottle of olive oil for sauteing (a poor choice, according to Sarah, with its low smoke point – coconut oil and ghee are best for high heat) and when I forget to soak my grains and lentils (as I did today when making these tacos, and, let’s be real – every time).
Jay’s been on a taco kick lately, experimenting with homemade refried beans, shredded cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, and any other seasonal vegetables we have on hand. He has his system down: heat the corn tortillas on a cast iron griddle. Add thinly sliced cheese and filling of choice and sandwich in said tortilla, still on the griddle, until melted and heated through. De-sandwich and fill with all the good things such as salsa, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and (very important) a squeeze of lime. Fold and serve with kombucha. Make Alanna really happy.
So when Sarah mentioned these tacos, I wagered that I could get tacos without having to cook anything, making the book an especially smart investment. I WAS RIGHT.
Sarah concocted the smoky lentil taco filling with umami in mind – that difficult to describe taste that feels full and earthy on the palate like bacon, mushrooms, parmesan, or ketchup. Umami foods such as meat all contain glutamate, an amino acid that lends that savory, satisfying flavor. So Sarah ditched the meat in favor of a handful of surprising, umami-ful, plant-based ingredients: caramelized onions, tamari, sun dried tomatoes, and smoked paprika with a bit of spice. The result is a savory, sweet, and smoky filling that reminds me a little of the complexity and consistency of al pastor. The sun dried tomatoes give it a sweet brightness with their concentrated, sunny flavor that smacks of summer. And lentils are of course full of good-for-you things like protein and fiber, and they’re usually easier to digest than beans (especially if you don’t forget to soak them first).
Sarah tested all of the recipes in Naturally Nourished with finds from her local supermarket in Copenhagen, the equivalent to Safeway, to make sure the ingredients would be easy for anyone to source. The result is a collection of innovative vegetarian recipes that leave you satisfied and uplifted, all made with easy-to-source ingredients. Many are vegan and/or gluten-free to boot. Sarah includes “rollover” suggestions to ease prep time in the kitchen, such as cooking a double batch of quinoa when making the Lemony Raw Beet and Quinoa Salad with Dill and Olives so you’ll have some on hand when you crave the Quinoa and Black Beans with Radish Cilantro Salsa the following day. (I’m currently craving both.)
The photos are a rainbow of colors, styled and shot by Sarah in a way that feels both elegant and cozy. The cookbook nerd in me appreciates not only the bounty of nourishing recipes and tantalizing photos for every recipe, but also the thick matte paper stock that feels good under my fingers, and pages that stay open on their own.
I’m smitten, and I can’t wait to try many more recipes such as:
- One-Pot Cleansing Kichadi
- Cashew Corn Chowder with Chipotle Oil
- Broccoli Basil Broth with Noodles and Sesame Salt
- Chickpea Curry Salad Sandwich
- Brown Butter Carrots with Pistachio and Dill
- Falafel Waffles (!!!)
- Spicy Watermelon Mojito Ice Pops
- Espresso Brownie Bites
I highly recommend getting your mitts on a copy of Naturally Nourished, and I hope you enjoy these smoky lentil tacos as much as we do!
*Thanks for reading! For more Bojon Gourmet in your life, follow along on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or subscribe to receive new posts via email. And if you make this, I’d love to see! Tag me on Instagram @The_Bojon_Gourmet and #bojongourmet.*
- 1 cup (210 g) French green lentils (optionally soaked in cool water for up to 8 hours)
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) coconut oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- ⅓ cup (70 g) chopped drained oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (or regular smoked paprika plus cayenne to taste)
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) GF tamari (or soy sauce if gluten isn’t an issue)
- Corn tortillas
- Chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes
- Tomato salsa (we love locally-made Papalote salsa)
- Sliced avocado
- Lime wedges
- Cotija, queso fresco, or feta, crumbled (or jack or another melting cheese, melted onto the tortillas in a skillet prior to assembling)
- Shredded cabbage
- Sour cream
- Drain the lentils if soaked, place in a medium saucepan, and cover with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until the lentils are very tender but still mostly holding a shape, 20-30 minutes. Drain and rinse well.
- In a wide skillet, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, sun dried tomatoes, paprika, oregano, and tamari. Stir to coat, adding a splash of water if the pan is dry, and cook until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the lentils and cook until heated through. Taste for salt, adding more if you like. The lentils keep well, refrigerated airtight, for up to 1 week.
- To make the tacos, warm the tortillas and top with warm lentils and your favorite toppings.