Ever have one of those days where it’s just go go go? And then you realize you are starving when you find yourself standing in front of your wide opened refrigerator door trying to decide whether a handful of almonds, strawberry jelly and a piece of tofu could somehow become dinner? Well, I’ve done that too many times to count really. I mean, I have the best intentions during the day – taking everyone out to play, swim lessons, play dates, dog walks…and then boom. It’s dinner time and I’m sniffing around in the bottom of the refrigerator looking for an instant dinner option. Well, this one is really easy and all you need is just a small amount of freezer space and you will never eat a jar of olives for dinner again.
Unless that’s your thing, then by all means, enjoy. Lentils are the quickest cooking bean, but this recipe can be made with any sort of bean at all. Pick your favorite and get to it – grab some dried beans. Wash them, pick out any ugly pieces, and put them into a large bowl covered in cold water to sit over night. In the morning, drain the beans, place them in a large pot and cover them again with some cold water. Bring the pot of beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook over medium heat until the beans are tender. Once the beans are fully cooked, drain them from the cooking liquid and place them in the refrigerator to cool completely. Fill a few quart sized freezer bags with the cooked beans and place them into the freezer. And ta-dah! Anytime you need a quick dinner option, pull out a bag of frozen beans and add them to some roasted veggies, stuff everything into a lettuce leaf or six, drizzle some avocado cream over the top, and dinner’s served. roasted vegetable and lentil tacos with avocado cream
2 cups cooked lentils
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias, about 1/4 inch thick
8 oz fingerling potatoes, sliced on the bias, about 1/4 inch thick
4 medium sized red beets, washed and stems removed
extra virgin olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 large shallot
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and stems
1 cup yogurt (greek style almond yogurt can be substituted if you want a vegan option)
the juice of one lime
butter lettuce leaves, separated and washed
Prepare the vegetables: Heat your oven to 350 degrees. On a baking rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment, place the cut carrots and drizzle a bit of olive oil over the top. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and toss everything to combine. Place the tray of carrots into the oven and roast, about 20 minutes or until tender. Turn the carrots about halfway through the roasting process. Once the carrots are tender, remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
Cook the potatoes the same way as the carrots – line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and place the potatoes on the parchment. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the potatoes and toss to combine. Place the tray of potatoes into the oven and roast, about 20 minutes or until tender. Turn the potatoes about halfway through the roasting process. Once the potatoes are tender, remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.
Place the washed beets into a baking dish. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the beets and add about 1/4 cup of water to the baking dish. Cover the dish with a tight fitting lid or foil and place the beets into the oven to roast. Depending on the beet size, the cooking process can be as quick as 30 minutes or as long as 1 hour. (Check your beets after 30 minutes by sticking a paring knife into the biggest beet in the dish. The knife should come out quickly when you hold the stabbed beet above the dish. If the knife stays in the beet, you need to continue cooking until the knife is easily released.) Once the beets are cooked, remove them from the oven, remove the lid/foil, and allow the beets to cool completely before handling. Once the beets have completely cooled, peel the skin from the beets, slice them into 1/4 inch thick slices, and set them aside.
Pickle the shallot: Peel the outer layer of the shallot and discard, along with the root end. Slice the shallot into thin rings. With your finger, gently separate the layers of shallot from each other and place them into a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, add the vinegar, sugar and water and bring to a boil. Once the liquid boils, pour the liquid over the shallots and place the whole mixture into the refrigerator to chill completely. Leave the shallots in the pickling brine for at least 30 minutes.
Make the avocado cream: In a medium sized bowl, mash the avocado with a fork and stir in the yogurt, trying to make the mixture as smooth as possible. Add a bit of lime juice and some of the water and stir. Continue to add water to the avocado mixture until it becomes thin enough to be a sauce. Taste and adjust with more lime juice, salt and pepper, as needed.
Assemble the tacos: In a large bowl, add the lentils, carrots, potatoes, beets, shallots and cilantro and stir everything together. Place a big spoonful of the lentil mixture into each of the butter lettuce cups, drizzle some of the avocado cream on top of the vegetables and top with roasted pepitas and some chopped cilantro.
my notes: if you want a completely vegan dish, just used some sliced avocado instead of the avocado cream. Squeeze some lime over the avocado slices and top with pepitas and maybe a sprinkle of some pepper flakes.