January 25, 2016

Michael Smith’s Meatless Tacos

Recipe: © Chef Michael Smith 2015

The year 2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses by the United Nations to celebrate one of the world’s most important foods: the edible seeds of the legume family (think: beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils). Sustainable, healthy and delicious, pulses are an excellent source of protein, making them a great alternative to meat. Try them in these vegetarian tacos, which are stuffed with so much sunny southwestern flavor that no one will notice the fact that they are meatless.


For the pulse filling

  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of canola oil
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (18 mL) of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of ground cumin
  • 1 cup (250 mL) of green lentils
  • A 19-ounce (540 mL) can of your favourite beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups (500 mL) of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of your favorite hot sauce

For the taco toppings

  • A head of Bibb or iceberg lettuce
  • 12 hard taco shells
  • A few handfuls of grated cheddar or taco blend cheese
  • Your favorite salsa
  • A large bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges


Yield: 12 tacos (serves 4 to 6)

  1.  Make the lentil bean filling. Splash the canola oil into a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Sauté until the vegetables soften and the spice flavors brighten, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the lentils, beans, water, and salt. Bring the works to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and continue slowly cooking until the lentils are tender, 35 minutes or so. Stir in the hot sauce.
  2. Assemble the tacos. Fit a full leaf of lettuce into a hard taco shell. This will hold the fillings in when the hard shell inevitably breaks. Fill each taco with a heaping spoonful of the lentil bean filling. Pack with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges and share!
Author: Kristen Eppich

Tim Chin