This cauliflower and lentil taco recipe is an awesome change from the usual meat and bean combos. And even non-vegetarians love it! (My husband included!)
Who doesn’t love tacos? The best thing about tacos is that they’re so easy to mix up for variety. Ground beef, pulled pork, spicy chicken, black beans, fish tacos or egg, potato and bacon breakfast tacos. I’ll take them all. But I think my favorite version of all is today’s recipe, cauliflower and lentil tacos.
I made these tacos a few months ago when I had some friends, who were vegetarian, over for dinner and they LOVED it. (Remember the days of dinner with friends? Sigh.) This recipe is the perfect vegan or vegetarian go-to that’s easy to whip up and super tasty. And, an even bigger win is that my husband, who is definitely NOT vegetarian, loves these too. It’s not hard, but it does take some time so plan ahead. But, most of it is hands off while the lentils and cauliflower cook so it’s a great option to make while working at home or while multi-tasking with other house tasks.
Here’s how to make them, along with some pointers! (You can also use the link at the top to jump to the recipe if you prefer a straight list of instructions!)
How to make Cauliflower and Lentil Tacos
1 large head of cauliflower
2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Black Pepper to taste
Cauliflower is naturally high in fiber, B vitamins, and a great source of antioxidants. It’s also super tasty, especially when roasted.
Olive Oil has plenty of healthy monounsaturated fats, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and so much more.
Black Pepper packs a lot of punch and flavor so don’t skip it! Freshly ground is best.
Seasoned Lentil Ingredients
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
2 large garlic cloves
2 Tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp chili powder
¾ cup brown lentils
2 cups vegetable broth or water
Lentils are rich in minerals, protein, and fiber. They come in a few different varieties, like brown, green, red and yellow. There are even black beluga lentils and puy lentils. For this recipe, I recommend using brown or black beluga lentils since those are quicker to cook and they tend to hold their shape well even if slightly overcooked. But whatever you have on hand will work!
Yellow or white onion. I prefer yellow onions when I cook since they add that hint of sweet flavor, but honestly, either onion works.
Garlic cloves are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. These little magic cloves are delicious and a really healthy ingredient to have in any diet. If you hate garlic, just leave this out or add a dash of garlic powder instead for a less potent garlic flavor.
Tomato paste is a tasty ingredient that is used for adding a slightly sweet flavor to the lentils.
Cumin is a great promoter of digestion and always adds a wonderful flavor to recipes. Especially when mixed with tomato flavor and chili powder. Yum.
Chili powder is a great anti-inflammatory agent and adds a nice spicy kick to the tacos.
Vegetable Broth is adds more flavor to the lentils than cooking with just water.
Chipotle Sauce Ingredients
Primal Kitchen chipotle lime mayo
2 Tbsp lime juice
Salt & black pepper to taste
If you can’t find Primal Kitchen mayo, check out this great blog post with another identical recipe and ingredients to make it from scratch!
8 small tortillas
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (for garnish)
Cooking Instructions for Cauliflower
Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
Slice cauliflower into bite-size florets.
Toss these florets with enough olive oil to cover them in a light, even layer of oil (about 2-3 tablespoons should do) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange the florets in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Pop them in the oven and roast for 30-35 minutes until florets are a deep golden brown along the edges. I recommend tossing them at the 15-minute mark so they cook evenly.
Remove from the oven. (The roasted cauliflower should be ready by the time your cooked lentils have finished simmering.)
Cooking Instructions for Seasoned Lentils
Warm olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat
Sauté the onion and garlic with a dash of salt for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn translucent. I recommend waiting a couple of minutes before throwing in your minced garlic so it doesn’t burn right away.
Add the tomato paste, cumin, and chili powder and sauté for another minute stirring constantly.
Add the lentils and vegetable broth (or water).
Increase the heat and bring to boil, then let the mixture sit at a gentle simmer.
Cook, uncovered, for 20 to 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender and cooked through. This might depend on the type of lentils you use. I would start checking your lentils after 30 minutes.
Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer adding more broth or water if the liquid evaporates before the lentils have finished cooking.
When lentils are cooked and tender, drain the excess liquid and set aside.
Instructions for Chipotle Sauce
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside. (easy, right?)
*If you are using whole chipotle peppers, just use a blender or food processor to mix the ingredients together.
Instructions on the finishing touches
Warm the tortillas individually in a pan over medium heat
Stack warm tortillas and cover them with a tea towel to keep them warm
Once all your components are ready, assemble your tacos and enjoy!
Taco Sauce Variations
Creamy Avocado Sauce
If you want a more creamy sauce for your tacos, I highly recommend a Creamy Avocado Sauce. I haven’t found a great store-bought version that I love yet, but all you need is 1 avocado, 1 Tbsp nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or nondairy greek yogurt, like Kite Hill), and 2 limes. Blend together and eat.
Salsa verde is another great option. I love tomatillo based salsa verde. It really helps add another flavor level to tacos, especially if you prefer more tangy sauces. Trader Joe’s has a great one by their jars of salsa!
Alternative Taco Options
Sub out your lentils
I mentioned that there are 5 different types of lentils. If you soak yellow, red, or green lentils overnight, they should be ready for a quick 20-30 minute boil for this taco recipe. They don’t have too much of a flavor difference, especially once you add in the cumin, chili powder, garlic, onions, and vegetable broth.
You can use gluten-free corn tortillas or my favorite gluten-free, grain-free tortillas are the Siete Almond Flour Tortillas that you can get from most grocery stores in the US. They are seriously delicious! Sometimes they’re in the freezer section and other times they’re in the fridge near the fresh salsas and hummus.
Add in tomato sauce
I like to add a little extra tomato sauce to the lentils just to add more tomato flavor and moisture to my taco fillings.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, sliced into bite-sized florets
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
- 2 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 3/4 cup brown lentils, picked over for debris and rinsed
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- Primal Kitchen chipotle lime mayo
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 8 small, round corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (cilantro haters, substitute some fresh spring greens instead)
To roast the cauliflower:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Toss cauliflower florets with enough olive oil to cover them in a light, even layer of oil
- Season with salt and pepper and arrange the florets in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet.
- Rest for 30-35 minutes, tossing halfway, until the florets are deeply golden on the edges.
Once the cauliflower is in the oven
- Warm the olive oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat.
- Sauté the onion and garlic with a dash of a salt for about 5 minutes, until onions are softened and turning translucent.
- Add the tomato paste, cumin and chili powder and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the lentils and the vegetable broth or water.
- Raise heat and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.
- Cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes to 45 minutes, until the lentils are tender and cooked through.
- Reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and add more broth or water if the liquids evaporates before the lentils are done.
- Once the lentils are done cooking, drain off any excess liquid, then cover and set aside.
To prepare the chipotle sauce
- Whisk together the ingredients and set aside. (if you have no choice but to use the chipotle peppers from the can, use a lender to purée it all).
- Warm tortillas individually in a pan over medium heat.
- Stack the warm tortillas and cover them with a tea towel if you won’t be serving the tacos immediately
- Once all your components are ready, you can assemble your tacos. Top each tortilla with the lentil mixture, cauliflower, a drizzle of chipotle sauce and generous sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
Let me know what you think of these tacos in the comments below!