Spicy Black Lentil Tacos with Ancho Crema

These tacos are very delicious and flavorful!   They have just the right mix of spiciness and seasoning.
 I use to make tacos with textured vegetable protein but I quit eating soy quite some time ago.  Lately, I have been missing tacos and my craving for them has grown.
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 I wanted to create a taco seasoning for Robby because he makes turkey tacos for himself quite often.  I was determined to develop a taco seasoning that he would like in hopes to get him to stop using the store bought seasoning packets.  I worked out a recipe that I was happy with and then I forced him to try it.  He was very hesitant at first but he finally gave it a try and said that it was way better!  Yayyy, mission accomplished!!!   The funny thing is, I wasn’t aware of the fact that Cinco de Mayo was just around the corner.  I realized that it was fast approaching when I started seeing other bloggers post their taco recipes.  So, here is my addition to the long list!
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Here are some other great vegetarian taco recipes!  This one – The Forest Feast, this one – Half Baked Harvest, this one – The Artful Desperado, this one – Dolly and Oatmeal, this one - Nutritionally Stripped and this one – Heather Christo.
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Obviously, a crisp cold Mexican beer goes great with these, but I love them with a red or white Rioja.
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Recipe: Serves 4 – 6
  • 1 Cup Black Lentils
  • 5 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 1 Large Tomato – grated or 2/3 Cup Strained Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Ancho Powder –  ancho pepper ground in coffee grinder
  • 2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 1/4 Teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoons Cumin
  • 1  Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  Garlic  Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  Onion  Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne (optional)
  • 12 Corn Tortillas or Taco Shells (I used sprouted corn tortillas)

Toppings

  • 1 1/2 Cups Red Cabbage – thinly sliced – or to taste
  • 1 – 2 Roasted Poblano – diced or sliced into thin strips
  • 1 – 2 Tomato – diced – or to taste
  • 1 Cup Cilantro Micro Sprouts or Fresh Cilantro – or to taste
  • 1 Cup Jack Cheese – optional – or to taste
  • 1 Cup Ancho Crema, Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche – 1 teaspoon ancho powder per cup – or to taste (optional)

Other ideas for toppings

  • Lettuce
  • Avocado
  • Fresh Corn
  • Lime Juice

Instructions:

Measure lentils, sort for any rocks and rinse.  Add the water to the lentils, turn up heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes or until lentils are soft, yet still firm.  Strain and set aside.

While lentils are cooking, remove the stem and seeds from the ancho pepper, tear into small pieces and grind into a power in a coffee grinder.  Set aside.

Dice the onion and add to a straight sided pan, along with the olive oil.  Sauté on medium-low heat for about 10 – 15 minutes or until slightly golden.  Cut the tomato in half. then grate the tomato cut side down and add to onions (if using tomato sauce, add it in place of the grated tomatoes).  Turn stove to low and cook for 10 minutes (if it becomes dry, add a bit of olive oil).  Add the salt, ancho powder and all the spices, mix well and add the lentils.  Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes to incorporate all the flavors.  It’s even better the next day.

You can either heat the tortillas in some olive oil in cast iron skillet until soft or you can wet them with water and heat them in a 350 degree pre-heated oven (drape them over 2 bars on the middle rack, they will be stiff at first but will drape down into a u shape after they heat up).  Bake for 5 – 10 minutes until desired crispiness.

Vegetarian-Black-Lentils-Tacos

Health Benefits:

Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health.  They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K.  They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth.

Roasted Pepper Spirulina Bloody Mary

As most of you who read my cocktail posts know, I like to keep my drinks on the somewhat healthy side; guilt free, or at least as close to as possible.  ;P   After Steph and I decided to incorporate Spirulina into some of our recipes, I started playing around with green cocktails. The flavors of the blue-green algae can be a bit overwhelming, so I had to come up with something that it would complement vs compete with.  I landed on a “green” Bloody Mary or as I named it the “Roasted Pepper Spirulina Bloody Mary” it is packed full of flavor and nutrition.  The green bloody mix can definitely be made the day before, especially if you want to be prepared; mark my words after trying this you WILL want more than just one!

  RoastedPepperSpirulinaBloody

The nutritional value of any blue-green algae and in this case specifically Spirulina will make you want to put it in everything; what isn’t it good for?!  Spirulina is full of dietary protein, B-vitamins, and iron.  It is also used for weight loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hay fever, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, premenstrual syndrome and other women’s health issues.  Some people use blue-green algae for treating precancerous growths inside the mouth.  It boost the immune system, improves memory, increases energy and metabolism, lowers cholesterol, prevents heart disease, heals wounds, and improves digestion and bowel health.  The list goes on…

RoastedSpirulinaBloodyMary---

Recipe:  Makes 1 Cocktail (Multiply for a larger batch)

  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz *Jalapeño Yellow Pepper Spirulina Puree`
  • 3 oz * Yellow Tomato Juice
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Horseradish
  • 4-6 Fresh Cilantro Leaves

Glass:  Pint, Collins or Glass Mug

Garnish: Celery, Tomatos, Lime, Jalapeño

Profile:  Original Recipe/ Medium Spice, Zesty Flavor

Instructions: 

If you want to prepare a bloody mix the day before, mix all ingredients except the vodka and cilantro leaves.  The proportions are for 1 cocktail so multiply according to the amount you want. The mix will stay fresh for up to 5 days maximum. When making the cocktail add all ingredients to a mixing glass stir to thoroughly combine and pour over ice.

*Jalapeño Yellow Pepper Spirulina Puree` 

Recipe:  Makes about 1/2 cup (4 oz’s or 4 Cocktails)

  • 2 Roasted Jalapeño Peppers
  • 2 Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 6 Tablespoons Purified Water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Powdered *Spirulina
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

* Spirulina can be found at your local health food store in capsules or you can order in bulk much cheaper from Nuts.com

1 Teaspoon Strained Fresh Lime Juice

Instructions:

After the peppers have cooled, remove the skin and deseed the peppers. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Set aside for cocktail or you can make the previous day as well (it’s always better the next day)

*Yellow Tomato Juice 

Recipe:  Makes about 12 oz (4 Cocktails)

  • 8 Large Yellow Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lime Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2  Cup Purified Water

Instructions:

In a large pot, fill half way full of water and bring to a boil.  Add tomatoes and fully immersed in water, boil until the skin starts to soften.  Once the skin splits on the tomatoes they are ready to pull out.  Rinse under cold water and peel the skin off.  Once cooled enough to touch without burning your hand, cut tomatoes into pieces.  Cut out the top hard part of the tomato and discard.

Add the tomatoes to a medium sized saucepan and  turn to medium – low heat.

Cook tomatoes until thoroughly broken down, you can use a potato masher to mash up.

Set aside and cool.

Once the tomatoes are cool, add all ingredients to food processor, blend until runny. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or food mill.

Fire Roasted Spirulina Salsa + Roasted Poblano Spirulina Pesto

Ang and I decided to try some recipes containing Spirulina from nuts.com!  We have been interested in doing something like this for quite a while.  A big part of our mission at CaliZona is incorporating healthy ingredients into delicious everyday recipes!  Look for Ang’s great cocktail recipe tomorrow.

Roasted-Poblano-Spirulina-Pesto

Spirulina is a blue-green algae found in pristine freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers.

Spirulina is one of the world’s most complete superfoods.  It promotes cellular regeneration, it is one of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatories and it is extremely high in antioxidants.

Fire-Roasted-Spirulina-Salsa

Spirulina is very rich in vitamin A, which is great for eye health.  It contains ten times the vitamin A as carrots and 26-times the calcium of milk.  It is very high in bioavailable iron and has more protein than beef, poultry, fish, and soybeans!  It also improves the absorption of dietary nutrients.
 
One of the coolest things about spirulina is that it has a very high concentration of chlorophyll, which makes it extremely detoxifying.  Chlorophyll assists in the removal of toxins from the blood.  It binds to heavy metals and carries them out of your body.   It is very beneficial for removing radiation from radioactive exposure or radioactive therapy.
: )

 Roasted Poblano Spirulina Pesto

Recipe:  Approx.   2 Cups

  • 2 Poblano Peppers – roasted
  • 3/4 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Manchego Cheese – finely shredded (I used 6 month aged)
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  •  2 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Spirulina Powder – or to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste

Instructions: 

Roast the poblano peppers, remove the burnt skin, remove the stems and seeds.

Finely shred the manchego, peel the garlic, measure all other ingredients, put into a food processor or blender and puree.

Fire Roasted Spirulina Salsa

Recipe: Approx. 4 to 5 cups. (for a smaller amount cut recipe in half)                                             

  • 5 Large Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 3 – 4 Large Cloves Garlic
  • 1 White Onion
  • 2  Serrano Peppers (add 1 for Mild)
  • 2 Anaheim Peppers
  • 1 Poblano Pepper
  • 1 Cup Cilantro Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Spirulina Powder – or to taste
  • 2 1/2 Teaspoons of Sea Salt

Instructions: 

 Core tomatoes, slice in half, cut an x on the bottom and place on a baking sheet.

Slice onion in half, then cut each half into three pieces and place on baking sheet.

Add the serrano, anaheim and poblano peppers onto the baking sheet.  Place baking sheet on the top rack and broil for about 6 – 8 minutes. (check at 6 minutes)

Turn peppers over and broil for 4 – 5 additional minutes.

When cool, remove the skins from the tomatoes.  Remove the skins, cut off the stem and de-seed peppers.  (Leave the seeds in the serranos if you like it hotter)

 Put garlic into a food processor or blender and pulse until minced.  Add all of the vegetables, cilantro, lime juice, spirulina, sea salt to the food processor and pulse until the desired texture.  I do about 15 pulses.

Roasted-Poblano-Spirulina-Pesto-and-Fire-Roasted-Poblano-Spirulina-Pesto

Red Lentil Piquillo Pepper Bisque

This is a truly delightful and velvety smooth soup!  It has incredible flavor with blended piquillo peppers, tomato, lentils, manchego cheese and toasted almonds!

Red-Lentil-Piquillo-Bisque

I made this soup on Wednesday and brought it to the farmers market to let my favorite ceramic artists Tom and Jasper to taste.  They shared it with two other guys and they gave me four thumbs up!  Yayyyy, I love feedback, especially positive feedback.

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of meeting a fellow food blogger that I admire very much!  Her name is Pang from the fantastic blog “Circa Happy“!  If you don’t know about Circa Happy, I highly recommend it!  She has to be one of the sweetest people/blogger out there and her photography is out of this world!  She is so sweet in person and it shows in her posts.  It is so awesome to meet someone that you have only communicated with through the internet.  We met up in San Jose for lunch and a little shopping at a very cool outside mall called Santana Row.  We talked about everything and of course food photography and blogging.  We plan to meet again!   The best part about making a big batch of soup is that it is so nice to be able to heat some up after a long day out and call it a night!

Red-Lentil-Piquillo-Pepper-Bisque

I enjoy this with a red Rioja and a white rioja, so it pretty much goes with any dry red or dry white wine.

Red-Lentil-Piquillo-Soup

Recipe: Approx. 8 – 10 servings

Piquillo Puree

  • 1 10 oz. Jar Piquillo Peppers (without sugar add) – rinse and remove seeds
  •  1 Cup Strained Tomatoes (I used Bionaturae in a glass jar) or 1 Large Tomato – grated, skin discarded
  • 1/2 cup Toasted Almonds
  • 1/2 Cup Manchego Cheese ( I used raw aged 12 months – Mitica)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
  • 2 Teaspoons Hot Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt

Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 White Onions – diced
  • 4 Garlic Cloves – minced
  • 1 Bouillon Cube – vegetarian – unsalted
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 2 Cups Red Lentils, -sorted  and rinsed
  • 8 Cups Filtered Water

Garnish (optional, but so good)

  • Red Cabbage – thinly sliced
  • Creme Fraiche
  • Toasted Almonds – roughly chopped

Instructions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F

Toast almonds – spread out on a cookie sheet and bake on the middle rack for 18 minutes (put a timer on so you don’t burn).   Let cool, then roughly chop.

While almonds are toasting, dice the onion and add to a 4 to 5 1/2 quart soup pot or dutch oven along with the olive oil.  Sauté on medium heat.
Mince the garlic and add to onions and sauté for about 10 – 15 minutes or until garlic is slightly golden.
 Add wine and bouillon.  Mash bouillon cube to dissolve and cook until wine is syrupy.
While onions are cooking, measure lentils, sort for any rocks and rinse.  Set aside.
When the onions are finished cooking, add water and lentils.  Turn up heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.  Cook for about 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.
While lentils are cooking, make the piquillo puree.  In a food processor or blender; puree the piquillo peppers, crushed tomato sauce (if using a tomato, cut in half and grate on a cheese grater with the cut side of the tomato down), almonds, cheese, vinegar, paprika and salt.  Add the puree to soup when the lentils are finished cooking.
Puree with a hand held blender (immersion blender) or you can use a food processor but it won’t be as smooth.
Health benefits:
Piquillo peppers are a high source of fiber, and Vitamins C, E, A, and B.  The vitamin C content is as high as a citrus fruit.  They improve the blood circulation and reduce high blood pressure.  They also help reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol and promote healthy cholesterol.
Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health.  They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K.  They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth.

Emerald Agave Margarita

Healthy margarita anyone?!  A fresh cucumber and cilantro margarita I call the  “Emerald Agave”!  When you see the color you’ll know why I wanted to name the drink after the “Emerald City”. Click your heels three times and you’ll be transported to another place!

emeraldmarg--

 I am a personal fan of Casamigo’s Tequila, it is so smooth and I particularly like the mineral flavors that come out in the blanco.  This tequila goes well with the savory marg.

EmeraldMarg

Recipe: Makes an 8oz. Cocktail    

  •  2 oz. Casamigos Blanco Tequila
  • 1oz. Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1oz. Agave Syrup
  • *2oz. Cucumber Cilantro Juice

Profile: Classic/Original Recipe ~  Refreshing & Citrusy

Glass:  Margarita, Martini or a Double rocks glass  

Garnish:  Lime wheel

*Cucumber Cilantro Juice

Recipe:  Makes 2 Cups

  • 1 English Cucumber
  • 2 Cups of Cilantro Leaves (about 2 handfuls)
  • 2 Cups Purified Water

Instructions: 

Blend all ingredients in a blender and strain*  or Use a juicer without the water then strain.

Strain all Ingredients twice through a fine mesh strainer.

If you don’t have either, use your muddler and smash the hell out of the cucumber and then add cilantro, shake with the water then strain through strainer;)

Cocktail

Instructions:

Make your *cucumber cilantro juice ahead of time and set aside.  Add all ingredients to a shaker, shake for 5 seconds and strain over ice into cocktail glass (salted rim optional)

Use an 8 oz cocktail glass or serve up as a tequila martini with a salted rim