When I tell you my picky eater asked for this dish once a week you are going to tell me you don’t believe me but it’s just that good. Taco pasta with lentils as the “meat” is a victory meal in out house! My husband and I are trying to incorporate as many Vegetarian dishes as possible into our menu and meal prep for the week and this includes the options we are feeding the kids. Our daughter is the easiest eater in the world, she would live on raw veggies and hummus however her brother is not quite so easy when it comes to meals for the week. So when I thought of this new and healthier spin on something he loves I figured let’s see how this one goes and to my pleasant surprise it was a win!
The majority of the ingredients in this dish are items I keep on hand all the time, I am obsessed with these pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s they make salads, wraps, pasta etc a low calorie protein packed quick success so I buy them every time I am there just to have on hand. The one item that was new to me was the Black Bean Rotini I have seen it featured here on Clean and Delicious and decided it was worth a try. My kids do already like black beans in tacos, burrito bowls and quesadillas so I thought the light black bean flavor would add to the dish and not scare them away. This is very true if you have a Trader Joe’s by you or your local grocery store sells black bean pasta give it a shot, it’s delicious, cooks just as fast as regular pasta, is gluten free and is high in protein.
I cooked the lentils like I would cook ground meat or shredded chicken for a meat taco dish so you could substitute them for any meat your family prefers but I recommend trying the lentils (sometimes your kids surprise you). I heated a little olive oil to the pan and then added my diced onion and peppers. Once they started to soften I added the crushed garlic lentils and seasoning. When I season tacos I try to make the seasoning myself and skip those sodium filled packets, I use Cumin, Paprika, a little cayenne, oregano, salt and pepper and it turns out delicious, I use the same seasoning on animal protein, plus adding the diced pepper, green onions and garlic add a ton of flavor. Then I used half a can of crushed tomatoes (I usually buy these larger cans because they freeze and defrost wonderfully so I can keep them on hand for my next recipe if needed and cut down costs).
All I did after this was add the lentil mixture to the strained pasta, stir in some cheese and place in a bowl with lettuce on top for the kids. You can top these pasta bowls however you like your tacos topped, my son will just eat lettuce, my daughter will do lettuce, tomatoes, smashed avocado (if we have it) and a spoon of Greek yogurt as “sour cream”, my husband and I added a little spicy salsa and some more cayenne. Having options always makes it fun so let them play around with what they like. I hope you give this a try and let me know what you think!
Lentil Taco Pasta
-1/2 package or 8 ounce cooked lentils
-6 ounce black bean pasta
-1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
-1 bell pepper chopped
-3 green onions chopped
-6 ounces crushed tomatoes
-2 tsp crushed garlic (or 2 cloves if you have fresh)
-1 tsp each cumin, oregano and paprika
-1 dash cayenne pepper
-salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp each)
Cook the pasta per the directions on the package. Chop your green onions and bells peppers, add a little olive oil to a hot pan and saute veggies until softened, then add your garlic and lentils, allow to cook a few minutes before adding your spices. Mix all your spices into your taco “meat” and add crushed tomatoes, allow to heat thru. Combine with the cooked pasta and stir in shredded cheese and allow to melt. Divide into bowls and top however you enjoy your tacos!