I am so excited to finally share this easy lentil tacos recipe! We have been eating them on regular rotation, and I have been trying to photograph them, but once everyone smells them, no one wants to wait for me to photograph them. So finally, I made it happen!
This lentil walnut filling is so good!! We served it at a taco bar for an extended family party, and I had to tell more than one person that it was not ground beef after they had happily wolfed down several tacos.
We serve crockpot shredded chicken for all of the die-heart meat eaters and with this recipe for a plant-based protein we easily satisfy the dietary preference of the whole family (which is not small).
Let me tell you more about my love for lentils- with my posts all about different kinds of lentils, their nutrition facts and health benefits, and more details about how to cook your best lentils- and then there is the ever-growing list of lentil recipes.
Green Lentils: Green lentils are the star of our Green Taco filling, and for a good reason! These tiny legumes are packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. They have a firm texture that holds up well in dishes like tacos, adding a satisfying bite. Lentils are also known for absorbing flavors, making them the perfect base for our savory taco seasoning.
Toasted Walnuts: Adding toasted walnuts takes our Green Taco to a new level. These buttery nuts add a crunchy texture and a rich, nutty flavor that perfectly complements the earthiness of the lentils. Walnuts are delicious and a great source of healthy fats, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Taco Seasoning (Cumin, Chili Powder, Oregano, Smoked Paprika): The secret behind the bold and aromatic flavors of our flavorful vegan taco meat lies in the taco seasoning.
How to make lentil taco meat
Cook the lentils: Begin by rinsing the dry lentils in a fine mesh sieve to remove any impurities. Transfer them to a medium-sized pot and add a few cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer the lentils for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until they become tender. The cooking time may vary depending on the type of lentils you're using, so refer to the package instructions for guidance. Once the lentils are cooked, drain off any excess water and set them aside. (you can do this ahead of time or just use leftovers if you have them around)
Toast the walnuts: Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread the walnuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and place them in the oven. Toast the walnuts for 10 to 13 minutes, keeping a close eye on them to prevent burning. They should turn lightly golden and emit a fragrant aroma when ready. Once toasted, remove the walnuts from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes.
Transfer all the toasted walnuts to a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Be sure to leave some texture for a satisfying crunch in the filling.
Sauté the pepper and onion filling: Heat ½ to 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat on the stove top. nd slightly caramelized. Then, add the minced garlic, spice mixture, and tomato paste to the skillet and continue cooking for another minute or two, stirring frequently. Be careful not to burn the spices; instead, aim to enhance their flavors by toasting them.
Combine the lentil filling: Add the cooked lentils to the skillet with the pepper and onion mixture. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Cook for a few more minutes until the mixture is heated through.
Pour in the broth, allowing the lentils to absorb the liquid. Cook the mixture for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together and the lentils to absorb the broth.
Incorporate the roasted walnuts: Add the chopped, toasted walnuts to the skillet. Gently stir to thoroughly combine all the ingredients, ensuring the walnuts are evenly distributed throughout the lentil mixture.
Building Your Best Taco
Add crunch with lettuce, cabbage, or coleslaw: To elevate the texture and freshness of your Lentil Tacos, consider adding a crunchy element. Options like crisp lettuce leaves, finely shredded cabbage, or a tangy coleslaw can provide a satisfying crunch that contrasts beautifully with the softness of the lentil and walnut filling. These additions enhance the overall mouthfeel and contribute a refreshing element to your tacos.
Amp up the flavor with a sauce: A delicious sauce can take your Green Taco to the next level. Consider adding this vibrant green taco sauce to intensify the taco's flavors. Combine fresh herbs, lime juice, garlic, and jalapeños for a tangy and spicy kick. Or opt for a creamy and herbaceous Cilantro Garlic Sauce, which pairs exceptionally well with the earthy flavors of the lentils and walnuts. Better yet, why not try both sauces?
More favorite toppings: For me, a taco is not complete without adding pickled onions for a tangy and slightly sweet touch. For those who enjoy a spicy kick, pickled chilis are an excellent choice to add a fiery flavor to your taco. Experiment with different toppings to find your favorite combination.
Building the best vegetarian tacos is all about layering flavors, textures, and complementary ingredients. Start by placing a generous spoonful of the lentil and walnut filling onto your taco shells or flour tortillas.
Then, add a handful of crunchy lettuce, shredded cabbage, or a dollop of coleslaw. Drizzle your desired sauce. Finally, top it off with pickled onions and a few pickled chilis! Feel free to experiment with additional toppings such as diced tomatoes, avocado slices, or a squeeze of fresh lime juice for a burst of citrusy goodness. The possibilities are endless, so don't be afraid to get creative.
These tacos work well with traditional sides like black beans, pinto beans, and refried beans, but I have also enjoyed them with cauliflower rice, and roasted sweet potato. You can also skip the corn tortillas and make a taco salad with all the same fixings.
These healthy tacos are perfect for meal prep. Once cool store the meatless taco filling in an airtight container and store it for your next taco night or meatless Monday. If you're not going to use the filling within a week store it in the freezer.
More lentil recipes:
If you’ve tried this Lentil Tacos (Easy Vegan Green Tacos) recipe or any other recipe on BalancingBowls, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see more tasty meals and anything else I’m up to.
Vegan Lentil Tacos
- ¾ cup unsalted walnuts
- 1 cup green lentils cooked
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 t ground cumin
- 1 t chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ fresh ground pepper
- ½ salt +plus ½ ish to taste
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Begin by rinsing the lentils in a fine mesh sieve to remove any impurities. Transfer them to a medium-sized pot and add a few cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer the lentils for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until they become tender. The cooking time may vary depending on the type of lentils you're using, so refer to the package instructions for guidance.
- Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread the walnuts evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and place them in the preheated oven. Toast the walnuts for about 10 to 13 minutes.
- Transfer all the toasted walnuts to a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped.
- Heat ½ to 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and peppers to the skillet and cook for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they become translucent and slightly caramelized. Then, add the minced garlic and the spice mixture, and tomato paste to the skillet and continue cooking for another minute or two, stirring frequently.
- Add the cooked lentils to the skillet with the pepper and onion mixture. Cook for a few more minutes until the mixture is heated through.
- Pour in the broth, allowing the lentils to absorb the liquid. Cook the mixture for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, allowing the lentils to absorb the broth.
- Add the chopped, toasted walnuts to the skillet. Gently stir to fully combine all the ingredients, ensuring that the walnuts are evenly distributed throughout the filling.
- While the lentil and walnut filling is simmering, take this opportunity to warm tortillas and prepare your choice of vegetable toppings.