Spicy Black Lentil Tacos with Ancho Crema
This chile pepper is often mislabeled ‘Pasilla’, which is a different pepper entirely.It is one of the most popular chiles in Mexico and has won the appreciation of many a chef worldwide because of the superior flavor it has over regular bell peppers.
They have a tough outer skin that usually requires roasting and peeling before use. These very large chile peppers are most popular in chiles rellenos recipes, but cooking with these as a substitute for bell peppers in any recipe will enhance the flavor.
Recipe: Serves 4 – 6
1 Cup Black Lentils
5 Cups Filtered Water
1/2 White Onion – diced
1 Large Tomato – grated or 2/3 Cup Strained Tomatoes
1 Teaspoon Ancho Powder – ancho pepper ground in coffee grinder
2 Teaspoons Paprika
1 1/4 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Teaspoons Cumin
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne (optional)
12 Corn Tortillas or Taco Shells (I used sprouted corn tortillas)
1 1/2 Cups Red Cabbage – thinly sliced – or to taste
1 – 2 Roasted Poblano – diced or sliced into thin strips
1 – 2 Tomato – diced – or to taste
1 Cup Cilantro Micro Sprouts or Fresh Cilantro – or to taste
1 Cup Jack Cheese – optional – or to taste
1 Cup Ancho Crema, Sour Cream or Creme Fraiche – 1 teaspoon ancho powder per cup – or to taste (optional)
Other ideas for toppings
Measure lentils, sort for any rocks and rinse. Add the water to the lentils, turn up heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes or until lentils are soft, yet still firm. Strain and set aside.
While lentils are cooking, remove the stem and seeds from the ancho pepper, tear into small pieces and grind into a power in a coffee grinder. Set aside.
Dice the onion and add to a straight sided pan, along with the olive oil. Sauté on medium-low heat for about 10 – 15 minutes or until slightly golden. Cut the tomato in half. then grate the tomato cut side down and add to onions (if using tomato sauce, add it in place of the grated tomatoes). Turn stove to low and cook for 10 minutes (if it becomes dry, add a bit of olive oil). Add the salt, ancho powder and all the spices, mix well and add the lentils. Cook for another 10 – 15 minutes to incorporate all the flavors. It’s even better the next day.
You can either heat the tortillas in some olive oil in cast iron skillet until soft or you can wet them with water and heat them in a 350 degree pre-heated oven (drape them over 2 bars on the middle rack, they will be stiff at first but will drape down into a u shape after they heat up). Bake for 5 – 10 minutes until desired crispiness.