Pop quiz! What is a “pulse,” in food terms? Pulses are the edible seeds of legumes, including lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans. I’ve been a big fan of pulses ever since I stopped eating meat. All of a sudden, I was craving them and cooking them all the time.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Pulses are packed with protein, fiber and iron. Did you know that one half-cup serving of cooked lentils has twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and twice as much protein as quinoa? Plus, they’re inexpensive and an important drought-resistant crop to many people around the globe. They’re definitely a crave-worthy food, whether you’re a meat eater or not.
I’m writing about pulses today because each year, the United Nations picks a topic of global interest. They named 2016 to be International Year of Pulses because of their significant health, economic and environmental benefits. Gearing up for 2016, the UN asked each country to submit one pulse recipe to represent their country. The USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council reached out to me to develop a recipe to be in the running. How cool is that?!
They are running a Facebook competition to pick the winner. With your help, my recipe could be selected as the National Signature Pulse Recipe for the U.S.! You can help me out by going to the USADPLC Facebook page, and voting for mine by Liking the photo. Please do! You’d make this food geek really happy. (Update: Voting is over, and this recipe won! Thank you tremendously for your support!)
We’ll talk about these tacos when you get back. They’re a little out there, I know. I discovered that golden, roasted cauliflower makes a great taco filling when I was in Austin. It’s a little crispy, a little chewy and totally perfect.
I cooked up some lentils that are seasoned with onions, garlic, tomato paste, cumin and chili powder. Top all that off with a drizzle of spicy, creamy chipotle sauce and some fresh cilantro, and you have one tasty taco. Not to mention, affordable and good for you, too!
Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Sauce
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 35 mins
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 2 to 4 servings
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Mexican
You’re going to love this vegetarian lentil tacos recipe. Roasted cauliflower, seasoned lentils and creamy chipotle sauce combine to make a delicious taco! Recipe yields 8 modestly portioned tacos.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, sliced into bite-sized florets
- 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¾ cup brown lentils, picked over for debris and rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 to 3 tablespoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers) or chipotle hot sauce to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 small, round corn tortillas
- ½ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (cilantro haters, substitute some fresh spring greens instead)
- To roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss cauliflower florets with enough olive oil to cover them in a light, even layer of oil. Season with salt and pepper and arrange the florets in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, tossing halfway, until the florets are deeply golden on the edges.
- Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic with a dash of salt for about 5 minutes, until the onions are softened and turning translucent. Add the tomato paste, cumin and chili powder and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the lentils and the vegetable broth or water. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes to 45 minutes, until the lentils are tender and cooked through. Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and add more broth or water if the liquid evaporates before the lentils are done. Once the lentils are done cooking, drain off any excess liquid, then cover and set aside.
- To prepare the chipotle sauce, just whisk together the ingredients and set aside (if you have no choice but to use whole chipotle peppers from the can, use a blender to purée it all).
- Warm tortillas individually in a pan over medium heat. Stack the warm tortillas and cover them with a tea towel if you won’t be serving the tacos immediately.
- Once all of your components are ready, you can assemble your tacos! Top each tortilla with the lentil mixture, cauliflower, a drizzle of chipotle sauce and a generous sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
Make it vegan/dairy free/mayo free: Substitute vegan mayonnaise or, better yet, check out A Couple Cooks’ tahini chipotle sauce! (For what it’s worth, I tried making this sauce with yogurt and it really missed the mark. Mayo is much better.)
Make it gluten free: Be sure to use 100% corn, certified gluten-free tortillas.
Chipotle sauce tip: If you have leftover sauce and peppers, pour the leftovers into a small freezer bag, then squeeze the air out of the bag and flatten out the bag. Store it in the freezer, flat, and you can just pull off as much as you need and defrost it!
If you love this recipe: Check out my other taco recipes and lentil recipes!
This recipe was created for USDAPLC as part of their National Signature Recipe Contest and I was compensated for my participation. Opinions are my own, always. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who support C+K!