Look no further if you are looking for a meat-free alternative to Mexican night! The smoky vegan lentil taco “meat.”
This one-pot dish contains only whole foods, including lentils and finely shredded carrots that mimic the texture of beef. We’ll show you exactly how to make it!
Tacos: Their Origins
Who invented the taco exactly? There’s still some mystery surrounding the taco! A professor who has done extensive research on the subject believes that Mexican silver miners may have invented tacos in the 18th Century.
Tacos were popular in Mexico, and Mexican immigrants introduced them to the US during the 19th Century.
This is a plant-based recipe with bold flavors!
How to Make Vegan Taco Meat
To make this quick and simple recipe, start by sautéing the onion and garlic together in a large pan. Sauté in water to keep the recipe oil-free.
Next, add cooked lentils for fiber and plant protein. This recipe is quick and easy because we used canned lentils, but you can also cook them from scratch (see below for instructions).
We chose smoky seasonings like cumin, smoked chili powder, and chipotle adobo.
Coconut sugar is added to bring out the umami taste and balance everything.
The nutritional yeast is optional but adds a rich flavor. Lime adds acidity, which balances the sweetness and heat. Hello, mega flavor!
You’re finished once all the ingredients have been simmered for a few minutes in vegetable broth to allow the flavors of each element to develop.
In a matter of minutes, you can have a tasty, plant-based filling for tacos made from recognizable whole-food ingredients.
You can also add half the mixture into a food processor to create a smoother texture (think of refried bean puree).
Smoky Lentil Filling
- Add more water as necessary (or use half the amount of oil)
- Half a cup of finely diced onions (any color).
- Three cloves garlic, minced
- You can also use sweet potato instead of carrot.
- 1 1/4 cups lentils cooked (rinsed, drained, and rinsed // we used canned lentils — please see notes for cooking raw lentils or substitute black or pinto bean)
- 1/4 cup broth (or water) as required
- Add more salt to taste.
- Smoked paprika, one tablespoon (plus as desired)
- Cumin powder (plus more according to taste).
- 1 tsp Chili powder (plus more to your taste // Spice blend should include cumin, oregano and chili powder)
- If you want less heat, leave out the chipotle.
- 1-2 tsp coconut aminos
- Use stevia or coconut sugar to taste if you are avoiding sugar.
- 1 tsp nutrition yeast ( optional).
- 1 tsp of lime juice
FOR SERVING optional
- Corn tortillas or flour tortillas
- Red cabbage shreds
- Lime wedges
- Hot sauce or Salsa
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add water (or oil), garlic, and onion, and heat until hot. Stir frequently and sauté for 4-5 mins, or until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned.
- Stirring frequently, add the carrots. Sauté for several minutes until they are slightly browned. Add cooked lentils, veggie broth, salt paprika, cumin chili powder, chopped chipotle pepper adobo (start with one teaspoon for low spice level), Coconut aminos, coconut sugar, and nutritional yeast. Stir well to combine.
- Cover the pan and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Remove the lid, and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes or until the carrots have become tender and their color has intensified. Stir frequently and add additional broth (or even water) if necessary. Stir in lime juice near the end of cooking.
- Add more salt, paprika, cumin, or coconut sugar to your taste. You can also add lime juice for acidity or coconut aminos for an umami flavor. We added more adobo, coconut aminos, and cumin. Do not be afraid to add flavor!
- Optional: Place half the mixture in a Food Processor, and using the “s-shaped” blade, mix/pulse the carrots and lentils together. It creates a more uniform texture, but it’s not necessary.
- Serve the mixture over tortillas (we heated corn tortillas for 20 seconds on each side on an open flame). We suggest red cabbage and cilantro as toppings. Add hot sauce or lime wedges for extra flavor.
- Keep leftovers in the fridge for up to 4-5 days or in the freezer for up to a month. Reheat the pieces on the stovetop until they are hot. Add water or broth to restore moisture.