Smoky Lentil Mushroom Tacos

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Some vegetarians/plant-based eaters search for recipes and products that will mimic meat in one way or another – either as far as consistency/texture or flavor (or both). We typically don’t, simply because we’re not missing meat, but the lentil-mushroom concoction part of this recipe most definitely feels… a little bit more towards that rich, smoky, umami-like end of the spectrum. Not rich as in heavy, but rich as in carrying deeper, bolder flavors. The texture has been made a little more interesting, with both non-mushy green lentils, chewy mushrooms and finely chopped walnuts, and pairs perfectly with crispy cabbage on top. And please, name a taco not benefitting from pickled red onions on top?

Corn or flour tortillas really doesn’t matter, but we like to go for corn every so often just to change it up. Either or, a quick reheat of the breads before piling up the filling is always a good idea. Leftover filling stores well in the fridge and can be eaten as is or with a grain the next day, if you don’t feel like making tacos again at your desk at work. Because yes, it’ll of course get just a little bit messy. We LOVE these. Hope you will too. Oh, and when you’ve now gotten yourself a whole head of red cabbage – why don’t you make this Roasted Red Cabbage with the leftovers?

Makes 8-10 small tacos

Pickled red onions

2 medium red onions (~200 g), cut in half and then thinly sliced
2 dl white wine or apple cider vinegar (or a mix of both)
2 dl water
1 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
3 large garlic cloves, peeled

Lentil-mushroom filling

1 medium yellow onion (~150 g), chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 dl green lentils, rinsed
1 1/2 tsp chipotle paste (or adobo sauce)
1 tsp maple syrup
1 dl toasted walnuts, chopped
250 g cremini mushrooms, quartered
Olive oil, salt, black pepper

Yogurt sauce

2 dl strained yogurt of your choice
2 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 tbsp fresh or frozen finely chopped cilantro
Salt and black pepper

To serve

8-10 small corn tortillas
150 g red cabbage, thinly sliced

  1. Start with the pickled onions by placing the thinly sliced onions in a glass jar (any airtight, food grade container will do, but we prefer glass because it doesn’t hold smell). Choose a container that you’ll more or less fill up over one where you’ll only fill up the bottom. For this, a 5 dl/pint size jar is appropriate. In a small saucepan, stir together water, vinegar(s), salt and sugar. Add in garlic cloves and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from the heat. Pour the hot liquid into the jar, filling up so it covers the onions entirely. Screw on a lid and allow to cool before placing it in the fridge (energy saving measure – in the winter, we always put food items to cool outside before placing them in the fridge).
  2. Then, move on to the lentil-mushroom filling. Sauté the onions in 2 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt in a medium-sized pot over medium heat, approx. 5 min. Stir frequently. Add in garlic, cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder and let cook with the onions for another 2 min.
  3. Add lentils and 2 1/2 dl water to the pot and cover. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook – covered – for approx. 30 min or until the lentils are done. They should still retain a bite and not be mushy, but be cooked through. Turn off the heat, stir in chipotle paste, maple syrup, a pinch of salt and some black pepper and mash all the ingredients together to get more of a spoonable consistency. Then set aside.
  4. Sauté the mushrooms in 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat, for approx. 10 min. Then add these to the lentil mixture, as well as the toasted walnuts. Stir together.
  5. Make the yogurt sauce by stirring together yogurt, garlic and cilantro. Add in a pinch of salt and black pepper.
  6. To serve: reheat the tortilla breads slightly. Place the filling across, and top with cabbage, pickled red onions and a few dollops of yogurt sauce. Enjoy!

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