Chipotle lentil soft tacos with avocado cream. Lentils make a great base for vegetarian and vegan meals, and their earthy, nutty flavour pairs well with the smoke-dried jalapeno peppers in Mexican chipotle paste. The spiced lentils add the bulk to these tacos and are then lightened with spinach and topped with a flavourful avocado cream, reminiscent of guacamole.
This article first appeared in my ‘Taste Not Waste’ column in Vegetarian Living magazine (March 2016)
At home, we know what we should do to cut down on food waste: grow it ourselves if we can, don’t overbuy and eat all edible parts of plants before they wilt. At a basic level, we must respect food and all the effort that it took to get it to us. We must care – and as vegetarians and vegans we certainly know how to care about what we allow on our plates.
Eating cauliflower leaves won’t feed the hungry, but a collective consideration towards food and the efforts involved in making it available could begin to mend our food system. We simply can’t let it rot, wilt or decay. As spring gently whispers warmth to awaken gardens, and life thrusts from the recently frozen soil, it’s our chance to start anew…
Sometimes food gives us more than we realise. With minimal effort, we can re-grow fresh vegetables from scraps with only water and a windowsill. For instance, if you stick the root ends of spring onions, with about an inch of the white part intact, into a glass of water on the windowsill, they’ll soon regrow. Or, if garlic cloves are getting old and starting to sprout, put them into a shallow dish of water and the greens will grow. Let them get a few inches tall, then snip off the tops to sue as a mild flavouring in salads.
Have a go with this issue’s Mexican-inspired recipe: once you’ve finished chopping your spring onions, save the roots to sprout new life for another meal.
- 250g (1 cup) Puy lentils
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chipotle paste
- 2 spring onions, chopped
- 2 handfuls of spinach, roughly chopped
- salt and pepper
- 8 small flour tortillas
- salad leaves and chopped tomatoes, to serve
- 1 ripe avocado
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh corriander
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- juice of ½ lime
- pinch of salt
- Cook the lentils according to packet instructions, or use pre-cooked.
- Heat a frying pan on a medium-low heat, then add the oil, chipotle paste and lentils. Warm for 3 minutes, stirring gently so as not to break up the lentils.
- Gently stir in the spring onions, spinach and seasoning, then cook for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted slightly.
- Puree the avocado flesh and all the remaining ingredients in a blender or with a hand-held stick blender, until smooth and creamy.
- Fill the tortillas with the lentil mixture, salad leaves and tomatoes, then drizzle with the avocado cream. Serve immediately.
SOS: Save Our Scraps
If you like the idea of growing veg from odds and ends that would normally be discarded, try these ideas:
* Cut off the bottom of a head of lettuce, celery or fennel and put it in a shallow dish of water in a sunny spot to allow it to re-grow.
* Add the lower end of leeks to a glass of water with a few inches of water and soon more will appear.
* Put the ends of carrots into a dish of water and the green tops will grow – perfect to whizz into pesto or add to salads.