Spring is slowly, finally emerging in Portland. What a first year to land here, with the record rains and wild winter followed by an unusually cold spring. (I did say that I craved seasons, and oh did I get them.) I have been getting outside more, finally exploring the many trails of Forest Park — which is sort of like my extended backyard — and the profusion of things growing and shades of green emerging is mind-blowing. It just feels good in there, and it feels good to return to one of my most grounding and gratifying old habits, hiking. I took a foraging class inside the park and it’s amazing how many edible things live in there. I still miss California, deeply, but I don’t recall our forests ever offering up quite so much edible sustenance.
The longer evenings of spring are so lovely and so welcome, even if they throw off my sense of time at night. I look forward to finally being able to enjoy my deck, which has been a soggy mess for the last six months. And it goes without saying that eating good food is one of the finest activities we can engage in on a deck.
Enter these tacos. I love how perfectly they embody spring, with the asparagus and radish sprouts offering a lighter palate of flavors and textures. I wanted to incorporate the essence of salsa, but felt that tomatoes’ sweetness and depth wasn’t quite right here, so instead I added every other salsa ingredient to the cooked lentils, and I’m kind of in love. A quieter iteration of salsa, with all the earmarks: minced onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime. I am pretty convinced that doing this to lentils might be one of the most clever things I’ve ever come up with for this humble, versatile legume.
Spring Lentil + Asparagus Tacos with Radish Sprouts
I’m really excited to be partnering with USA Pulses and Pulse Canada this year to share my creative take on incorporating pulses – lentils, chickpeas, dry peas and beans – into daily and weekly meals! I especially love how simple lentils are, as they don’t require soaking and cook in 30-45 minutes. Plus, lentils are ridiculously versatile and protein-packed and just all around awesome.
1 cup puy lentils, rinsed
1 medium onion, halved and separated
1 carrot, sliced in half
1 celery stalk, sliced in half
1 dried ancho chile or similar
1-2 bay leaves
Few sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound bunch of asparagus
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 to 1 small jalapeño, finely minced
1/3 cup minced cilantro, plus more for serving
2 limes, 1 juiced, 1 sliced into wedges for serving
Feta cheese, crumbled, for serving
Radish Sprouts, for serving (or use any sprout, preferably one with a little spice!)
Hot sauce, for serving
In a large pot, add the lentils, 1/2 of the onion, the carrot, celery, the ancho chile, and the bay leaves and thyme. Add water to cover the lentils by about two inches. Cover the pot, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the lentil are cooked through, 30-45 minutes.
While the lentils cook, mince the remaining half of the onion, and set aside. When the lentils are nearly cooked through, heat a large skillet over medium low heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the asparagus until tender but still green, about 3-4 minutes.
When the lentils are cooked through, strain out the remaining liquid. (Reserve and freeze for soup stock!) Remove the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and thyme.
Into the pot of lentils, stir in the minced onion, sea salt, chipotle powder, paprika, minced jalapeño, and lime juice, and stir to combine. Add the cilantro and stir again. Set aside.
To serve, warm the corn tortillas in either a skillet or directly over a low gas flame. Spoon lentils into the tacos, followed by asparagus, and top with crumbled feta and radish sprouts.
Serve extra limes, cilantro, and hot sauce at the table. Enjoy!
This post was sponsored by Canadian Pulses and Pulse USA. All thoughts and content are my own. Partnerships like these sustain me as a small business!