Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lovely Lentil Tacos with a Side of Spicy Swiss Chard

When I saw this recipe for Lentil Tacos on Runnersworld.com I could not wait to try it! I have been a huge fan of lentils for awhile and lived on lentil soup throughout the winter. It was so filling and creamy and a great substitute for someone like me who really lost their craving for alot of of meat dishes. Also if you recall I thoroughly enjoy Mexican food and love all the flavors that typically come with that cuisine. It did however take me a few weeks to convince erin of the joys of lentils. She had tasted my lentil soup and found it anything but Mexican. I convinced her that the spices and other ingredients would far surpass the typical blandness (which I happen to enjoy) in a lentil soup. She reluctantly agreed to try them...

Now the first step was getting her past a few ingredients. She isn't a huge fan of celery, she quickly pointed out, but I really didn't want to alter the recipe until I had attempted it once. I assured her that the celery would cook down with the rest of the items and just give more texture to the filling. Also she wasn't completely sold on the raisins but again she decided to give it a try. I started with oil spray instead of the oil called for and I opted to go with the vegetable broth to cook the lentils in. I must point out that I ended up DOUBLING the amount of liquid called for. I added the entire can of veggie broth and approx. 3/4 cup of warm water. As the lentils cooked down I continued to check the tenderness and they definitely required more liquid. All the spices and textured smelled and looked great! We served these up with corn tortillas and topped it with some low fat Mexican cheese and I used some chopped up cabbage as a lettuce substitute. The recipe says that it feeds four, but there were three of us eating (two tacos each)and we had PLENTY leftover. I think this would work great as a nacho topper as well!

As the lentil mix cooked I had found a side dish on eatingwell.com that had some Mexican flavors, but wasn't high in the calories or fat. Normally I would tend to have chips on the side when having tacos, but even the healthier ones (i am a HUGE fan of the guiltless gourmet brand) are no match for my chip craving and I knew I would go overboard given the option. Instead I decided to try Chipotle Cheddar Chard! I have never had swiss chard before but the recipe looked simple and I knew that chipotle was a good flavor to pair with tacos! Now I made a major mistake while cooking that I am going to point out to anyone else who attempts this dish. When you read the recipe it tells you to separate the stems and leaves of the chard. Naturally I just threw the stems away, upon reading the instructions however I saw that you were suppose to cook the onions and stem together and then add in the leaves at the very end. Instead I added the leaves in the beginning and it cooked WAY down and made alot less than expected. It was still really good, but I assume that having the stems in there would have given the dish a bit more substance and quantity! We all went back for 2nds though so it didn't seem to bother us! I doubled up on the chipotle after tasting it and added some salt and pepper. I would also note that the recipe claims to feed 6, but I would say it was more like a serving for 4 (could be that the stems make a big difference). I also think we could have added this right on top of the tacos if those darn tortillas weren't so small.
This turned out to be a really successful, healthy dinner. The tacos were tasty and satisfying, filling everyone up! The side dish, although a bit off on the instructions, was delicious and simple. Both dishes could be used to create one tasty burrito/taco or nachos.

I think that leftovers might be lentil nachos...