I’ve been eating a lot of soft taco/tostada meals recently. They’re such an easy vehicle for veggies and plant proteins, and it’s fun to come up with creative toppings (even if my usual default is simply to smother them with truly amazing cashew queso sauce).
These cumin roasted carrot and lentil tacos are a departure from the usual set of toppings (refried beans, green chilis) in that they feature a more Middle Eastern spice profile—cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, cinnamon, and even a touch of (optional) harissa. They’re wonderfully savory, and the spice blend here gives them an unusual touch.
There are many different ways to create a hearty—or meaty, if you’ll forgive the idiom—filling for vegan tacos. One is to use tofu, tempeh, or seitan, which are the obvious choice for vegan meat replacement. Another is to use veggies that deliver a lot of texture and chew, like crispy cauliflower or mushrooms.
Pulses are also an obvious choice for protein and heft. My heat free lentil and walnut tacos are a standby recipe for me, whether I serve them with romaine leaves, collard leaves, or regular taco shells; I love the savory, umami packed combination of lentils, walnuts, and sun-dried tomatoes.
These tacos rely on lentils as a cheap, nutritious plant protein source. But they also incorporate crispy, cumin-dusted roasted carrots. Carrots may not come to mind as a traditional taco ingredient, but I’m really impressed with the heartiness they add to this dish. They pair perfectly with the Middle Eastern spices and the lentil/red onion combination. Slivers of creamy avocado complete the dish, adding healthful fats and a flash of beautiful, bright color.
This post is a part of my year-long celebration of the International Year of Pulses. The UN has named 2016 the year of pulses in recognition of beans, lentils, and dry peas as a sustainable, affordable protein source. I welcome all of you to take the Pulse Pledge with me—a low-key commitment to eating pulses once a week for at least ten weeks this calendar year. I know it’s not usually hard for plant-based eaters to squeeze in plenty of pulses, but this challenge can still serve as a fun and friendly reminder.
And if you’re looking for a bold, flavorful recipe to start your pledge with, I highly recommend these tacos.
Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos
- 1 pound peeled and trimmed carrots about 4 large or 8 regular sized carrots
- 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin divided
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon harissa seasoning optional; I like the one from Frontier Co-op
- Coarse salt
- 1 small chopped red onion
- 1 1/2 cups cooked brown black, or green lentils (or 1 can lentils, rinsed and drained)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice plus extra for serving.
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 8 corn or whole wheat soft tacos
- 2 large Hass avocados
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Half or quarter the carrots (depending on how wide they are), then cut them into 1-inch long pieces. Place them in a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin, the coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika, and the harissa, if using. Toss well to combine. Transfer the carrots to a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until the carrots are very tender and a little crispy.
- While the carrots roast, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the red onion. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the lentils, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin, the chili powder, lime juice, and salt. Stir to combine everything and heat the lentils up (about 1-2 minutes). Turn off the heat.
- Toast the tortillas gently over an open oven burner (about 1 minute per side). Alternately, you can wrap them in foil and place them in a 350F degree oven for about 5 minutes prior to taco assembly.
- To assemble tacos, place 1/4 cup lentil mixture, a handful of roasted carrots, and a few avocado slices in each taco. Top with an extra squeeze of lime juice, if desired. Fresh, chopped parsley makes a nice accompaniment, too. Enjoy.
If lentils aren’t your pulse of choice, feel free to try roasted chickpeas, kidney beans, or pinto beans in the recipe instead. You can also add some additional vegetables to your tray of carrots before roasting (I’d love to add mushrooms to the recipe myself!).
I hope you give these wholesome tacos a try soon. If you make them, I’d love to hear how the recipe turns out!
This post was created in partnership with the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. Opinions are my own. Thank you for your continued support! To learn more about the Pulse Pledge and find more bean, lentil, and dry pea recipes, visit www.pulsepledge.com.