Easy Lentil Taco Salads
Easy Lentil Taco Salads- seasoned lentils are served on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce with juice tomatoes, sweet corn and buttery avocado. Topped with a creamy cashew salsa dressing, this salad is sure to be a new favorite! (vegan, gluten-free + grain-free with nut-free option)
Just 2 days until Cinco de Mayo! Are you guys excited to eat all the chips and guac, and drink all the margaritas??
I know we don’t need a holiday to eat all the delicious Mexican foods. That’s pretty much how every weekend goes in my house. Except we usually drink kombucha in place of the margaritas. Because I’m wild like that.
I get that salad might not be the sexiest thing to post for the holiday but I promise this will become a staple in your meal plan. It is so simple to make, super satisfying and packed full of flavor and nutrition.
It was inspired by a meal I had during our recent trip to Charleston at this adorable little vegan spot called Gnome Cafe. We ate there twice during the three days and everything was amazing. I so wish we had one in Athens. I’d be a weekly customer for sure.
The taco salad I had for lunch was vibrant and full of flavor. It featured seasoned lentils, corn, tomatoes, and guacamole served on a bed of kale and romaine, and topped with a creamy cashew dressing. It was so good and I instantly knew I had to recreated it for you guys.
At first I thought using lentils as taco meat would be too basic of an idea but then I remembered, BASIC IS GOOD. It makes life easy.
So the lentils get seasoned with cooked onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and smoked paprika. Then they’re served on crisp romaine lettuce with avocado, tomato and corn. Super simple. I like to soak my lentils overnight with apple cider vinegar before cooking to help make them easier to digest but you can also use precooked lentils if you want to save time.
For the dressing you’ll need a high speed blender (a Nutribullet also works great!) to break down soaked cashews with fresh lime juice and salsa. It only takes a minute to make and it’s so worth it. You can easily make it nut-free by substituting sunflower seeds instead.
This taco salad is great for a light dinner or to prep for lunches during the week. It’s sure to be a repeat on my menu all summer long and I have a feeling it will be on yours too! Enjoy!
Lentil Taco Salad
Yield: 4 large salads
Prep Time: 20
Cook Time: 10
Total Time: 30
For the Salads
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt*
2 cups cooked brown lentils** (about 3/4 cup dry)
8 ounces romaine, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
10 ounces corn kernels, defrosted
2 avocados, diced
fresh cilantro and lime juice for serving
Creamy Cashew Salsa Dressing
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes (sub sunflower seeds for nut allergies)
4 tablespoons salsa
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/2 cup filtered water
salt to taste
In a large non skillet, cook the onion and pepper with a splash of water (or a small amount of oil) over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Pour in the cooked lentils along with the seasonings (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano and salt) and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes then reduce heat to low.
To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a high speed blender (or a Nutribullet). Blend until smooth. Add more water as needed to thin and salt to taste.
Arrange the romaine in 4 separate bowls and top with tomatoes, corn, and avocado. Top with cooked lentils and chopped fresh cilantro. Finish with lime juice and cashew salsa dressing and enjoy!
*optional (for a low salt option, add a pinch of salt to lentils in your salad before serving)
**To help with digestion, I recommend soaking the lentils in a bowl filled with water to cover + 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. Drain and rinse then add to a pot with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain excess water and cover with a lid to steam until ready to use.