Easy Lentil Taco Meat
What is so great about tacos? Everything! They’re great at restaurants, but to me just as satisfying at home. You can have tacos at dinner or egg tacos at breakfast. There’s so many options for fillings and toppings that you could have tacos more than once a week and not get bored. You can spend a lot of time on prep… or you can make them in 5-10 minutes like I do with this easy lentil taco meat! Because of this, tacos are a staple in our home and now chili style diced steam peeled tomatoes are, too.
This post is written in partnership with Pacific Coast Producers, a leader in steam peeled tomato production. Thanks to them for making it possible to distribute this information! As always, I only engage in partnerships with those whose philosophies align with my own.
Benefits of Lentil Taco Meat
Lentils are one of my favorite plant foods for athletes and active individuals due to their protein and potassium content and as a good source of iron. They’re also a good source of folate, especially important for pregnant women. You’ll find polyphenol antioxidants in lentils as well. While there are many polyphenols, they are being researched to fight oxidative stress on cells, which may positively impact recovery from exercise. Lentils provide fiber and prebiotic carbohydrates to support a favorable balance of bacteria in the microbiome, too!
Pair this with their ability to have a meat-like texture, and lentils a great option whether you do or don’t include meat in your diet! Since there are a variety of lentils, you may want to be picky with which you choose for tacos. Red and yellow lentils are great, but lower in protein and therefore get a lot softer when you cook them. Those types are better for soups and stews vs. heartier recipes like this easy lentil taco meat. I always have green lentils, black lentils and french lentils on hand and sometimes will cook all three together for a varied texture. If you want to learn more and take a look, check out this video all about lentils.
How to Make Lentil Taco Meat
To start, you’ll either want to have lentils pre-cooked from the store, or that you pre-cooked yourself. Any package of lentils you purchase will have instructions for preparation. All it takes is rinsing the lentils and then boiling and simmering them on the stove with either water or broth. When I take time to prep food for the week, I will often multitask by preparing lentils from dry so that they’re ready in the fridge to add to salads, wraps, or recipes like this lentil taco meat. However, you can also prep ahead and freeze, then pull to thaw in the refrigerator the day before you’ll use them in a recipe like these.
Even easier is if you have the store bought versions. Since becoming a mom of two, I use packaged lentils at least half of the time now. There’s options at both Target and Trader Joe’s that I keep on hand. While you can purchase canned lentils, I find they work best for soups or stews rather than dishes such as this where you’d like a more hearty texture.
On a busy day you can mix your prepped lentils and seasoned steam peeled diced tomatoes in a large saute pan. This recipe calls for “chili seasoned” steam peeled diced tomatoes, but I also love having steam peeled diced with green chiles on hand as an option, too.
If you have a little extra time, you can start with some chopped onion and shredded carrot for a bit more texture and flavor, but they aren’t mandatory. Enjoy bold flavors like me? You can add a bit of extra seasonings from your pantry while the easy lentil taco meat cooks. To finish it off, if I’m really low on fresh groceries and don’t have another veggie as a side, I’ll stir in frozen spinach.
Now the taco meat is able to be used in soft taco shells, hard taco shells, taco salads or any other way you wish! The topping possibilities are endless, but since we’re using the flavorful steam peeled tomatoes, you can skip the salsa and focus on some avocado, cheese and lettuce. I love a spicy taco sauce, too!
How to Use Steam Peeled Tomatoes in Tacos
My quick weeknight taco recipes include seasoned and diced canned tomatoes. While this recipe utilizes lentils, you can rinse and drain beans as an alternative, or even crumble some tempeh to create the “meat” in a similar amount of time. In either case, canned tomatoes contain vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to absorb iron from plant foods, making plant based tacos and tomatoes a fantastic pair!
You can also use whole peeled tomatoes to make homemade salsa. I take on most of the cooking at home because I enjoy it and can whip meals up easily, but my husband has a fantastic family recipe for homemade salsa. I don’t spend much time on TikTok, but we did post it there if you want to see what’s in it!
Due to the quality and environmental impact, we’ve switched to steam peeled canned tomatoes for the diced that we use in plant based taco meat and for the whole peeled tomatoes which are the star of his salsa! It’s not just the ease of use, but the flavor and quality of steam peeled canned tomatoes that keeps us grabbing them year round for recipes. We also love that they’re always in our pantry to add produce to meals even when we are overdue for a grocery trip.
Pacific Coast Producers manufactures the majority of private label steam peeled canned tomatoes with tomatoes making it from field to the can in 5 hours or less! This is what maintains the quality and nutrient density. You can read more about the sustainability of the steam peeling process here, too.
This lentil taco meat recipe can be super simple and made in 5 minutes, or more elaborate, taking 10-15 depending on the time and ingredients you have on hand. You’ll note in the recipe’s ingredients below that there are several listed as “optional”. I love to use them when I can, but if you need dinner ready immediately, you can still build delicious tacos, balanced in nutrients, with just the main (not optional) ingredients listed.
Easy Lentil Taco Meat
- 1 tbsp avocado oil (or other oil)
- 1 can steam peeled chili seasoned diced tomatoes 14.5 ounce can
- 1 small onion, diced optional
- 1 large carrot, shredded optional
- 2 cups pre-cooked or packaged lentils
- ½ tsp cumin optional
- ½ tsp oregano optional
- ½ tsp paprika optional
- Heat oil in saute pan over low-medium heat before adding diced onions, if using, and stirring. After cooking 1-2 minutes, add optional shredded carrot, stir and cover.
- Add your steam peeled tomatoes to the pan and stir in optional additional seasonings.
- Stir in pre-prepared or packaged lentils, cover and let cook 3-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add to taco shells or taco salad along with your favorite toppings.