lentil tacos

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While I loved these tacos, the real news here is that I’ve figured out how to soften corn tortillas without requiring a lot of fat or a lot of effort. I’m not saying they’re as good as fried tortillas, but in a healthy pinch, they’ll more than do. They still have the corny flavor I love and hold a generous scoop of gloppy filling, so I’m very pleased.

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I’ve started replacing flour tortillas with corn tortillas, at least for healthy weekday meals, saving the refined flour and partially hydrogenated fat-containing flour tortillas for weekend splurges. (And no, I do not want to make my own tortillas. Even I have limits, especially when the tortillas I can buy in New Mexico taste so good, partially hydrogenated fat notwithstanding.) Not only are they healthier, but they taste better. But I struggled for years with corn tortillas’ tendency to crack when folded, unless they were (deliciously) saturated with oil.

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I’d tried heating them on the grill, but they cracked as soon as they started to cool. I tried wrapping them in foil and heating them in the oven, but that didn’t solve the problem. I tried wrapping them in a damp cloth in a warm oven, which was an improvement, as the tortillas on the top and bottom of the stack were moist enough to fold without cracking, but those in the middle still broke.

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The trick, I’ve found, is to lay a damp dishtowel on a baking sheet, spread the tortillas over it in a single layer, then top with a second damp cloth. Heat the whole configuration in a warm oven while you make your filling. Then take the tortillas out of the oven, remove the top cloth, dollop on your chili-spiced lentils and some traditional-for-good-reason toppings, and dinner is easy, healthy, and delicious.

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One year ago: Brown Rice
Two years ago: Pizza with Figs, Prosciutto, Gorgonzola, Balsamic, and Arugula
Three years ago: Anadama Bread
Four years ago: Marshmallows

Printer Friendly Recipe
Lentil Tacos (adapted from epicurious via Prevention RD)

Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
½ teaspoon salt
2½ cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
10 taco-sized corn tortillas
toppings: cheese, avocado, salsa, tomato, lettuce

1. In a 3- or 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until just browned around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and spices; cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute, until fragrant. Add the lentils, salt, and broth; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Uncover; simmer for 6-8 minutes, until mixture is thickened. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, break up some of the lentils. Stir in the cilantro.

2. While the lentils cook, heat the oven to 275 degrees. Arrange a dampened dishtowel on a baking sheet. Spread the tortillas over the towel in a single layer (some overlap is expected), then top with a second dampened dishtowel. Heat in the oven for 10 minutes, until the tortillas are warm and soft.

3. Divide the filling and toppings evenly among the tortillas. Serve immediately.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the corn tortilla tip – I always get so frustrated with the cracking, etc.!

  2. Nicole, RD says:

    I’m so glad you loved these, too! I am DEFINITELY going to try that trick with the tortillas….mine always crack :(

  3. I agree – corn tortillas are great but the cracking is so annoying. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Kate says:

    The steamed tortillas were such a better texture than usual. Even my 3-year-old had seconds of the tacos, too. Awesome all around, thanks!

  5. Betsey says:

    Wow thanks for the tip! The only solution I had found was to make my own lard-o-licious flour tortillas, and substitute masa for a portion of the flour. Not a bad solution… But this is much easier! This is a dumb question, but what is a warm oven? 200 degrees? I’ve never been clear on this.

  6. bridget says:

    Betsey – Good question; I should have specified. Yes, I heat the oven to 200 degrees for this.

  7. Angela Mendoza says:

    You all should just heat the tortillas on a hot comal or griddle. My family is Mexican and that’s the only way we do it. Unless of course we’re doing carne asada and then we’ll throw them on the grill. Never had any problem with them cracking. Maybe you weren’t heating them for long enough?

  8. Victoria Morton says:

    Everything was so right about this dish. The tortillas were fantastic…but so was everything else. I honestly was skeptical and figured at best it was going to be one of those so-so healthy dishes we eat because we should. But it its not….I want to eat them all the time now. I absolutely loved it! My kids even enjoyed them. Thank you for this awesome recipe.

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