02 July 2007

Tacos Even a Carnivore will Eat

We've tried various veggie-taco-meats over the years. The best ones were made of wheat gluten, which is a complete no-no, now, in our family. The rest were so-so or so highly seasoned that we might as well have placed whole cloves of garlic in the shell and been done with it. This is particularly problematic, since tacos is a fan favorite with the Carnivore.

A few nights ago, I randomly observed that lentils, soaked and ground, cooked into something that looked and felt remarkably like hamburger, so I decided to experiment tonight and see if I couldn't really pass them off as hamburger in taco-meat form.

I took soaked lentils, ground them in the blender with taco seasoning and garlic powder (and some salt), then fried them in oil, stirring-stirring-stirring, until they formed into 'taco meat' -- this I seasoned with the normal amount of taco seasoning, and served it without saying a word.

The Carnivore's fist question: "Why does this meat look a little different than usual?" -- He likes very fine ground beef in his tacos, and I usually make bigger chunk-style. This was finely ground. "Because it's not meat," I answered.

Now, I expected rejection immediately, so I informed the Carnivore that he had a whole pan of meat waiting (I mean, this IS his favorite meal), in case he didn't like the 'meat' -- to which he replied that he'd already tried it, and it was fine.

The Carnivore then proceeded to eat the lentil-meat, as did the little sillies, and the ground beef was picked at.


Here's a pic of the ground beef next to the lentil-meat: Can you tell which one is which?

This tasted wonderful, not beany at all, and it was a cinch to make. I'll have to try this technique for other dishes. Here's the recipe:


8 oz lentils, soaked overnight in 6 cups of water, then drained.
1 cup-2 c water
1 tsp garlic powder or one clove garlic
1 tsp salt
(if using for taco meat) -- 1/2 c gf taco seasoning
oil, about a cup.

Grind the lentils and seasonings in a blender using just enough water to keep the machine from burning up. The mixture should be thick, like cold cream or pudding.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot. Add the ground lentil paste and fry, stirring constantly. There should form a skin on the bottom of the pan, scrape this (this is the part of the mixture that will come to resemble ground beef). Keep frying and scraping (you can leave the mixture for several minutes to allow a crust to build up) until the mixture begins to look 'dry' and resembles cooked ground beef -- remember that this will firm up even a bit more as it cools, so leave it just slightly moist.
This took me 30 minutes on high heat.

At this point you can use it for anything calling for pre-cooked ground beef. YUM


Sea said...

Looks great! I'm always looking for tasty ways to prepare lentils. :)


Sea said...

Hi Naomi-
We miss you! Where aaareee yooouuuu?

Slightly Off Balance said...

I'm baaaaack! LOL.. we were in New York, vacationing with family. It was great, but I'm more convinced than ever that meat is making a quick exit from our lives. Glad to hear from you!