By Elizabeth Cancade, Culinary Nutrition Guide & Holistic Personal Chef at Living Simply Kitchen
Adagio Acres Winter Grain CSA members, this one's for you! When it comes to using local foods like Black Beluga Lentils, I look for ways to incorporate them into dishes we already enjoy. In this case, I suspected they would be fantastic in a "black bean" salsa and I set out to create a fresh salsa - it turned out great!
Here's a little something to spice up your next taco night while you're celebrating local food. At this point, winter in the Prairies is feeling relentless and I hope this will add some cheer while we wait for Spring to take hold. One of my favourite family weekday meals is a taco bar: We set out a spread of taco fixings and create our own as we eat! This is really fun for kids, too, or you can pivot to a quesadilla if that's what they like. PRO TIP: a taco bar will boost your mood even faster with some fantastic latin music in the background while you prepare.
On weeknights, focus on simple, flavourful toppings so you don't have to cook a lot: guacamole, coleslaw mix, leafy greens, salsa, refried beans or black beans, shredded cheese, sour cream or greek yogurt (we often just use greek yogurt - the two are similar enough and the yogurt has those gut-friendly beneficial bacteria!)
Skip the ground beef. Tacos are perfect meal to play with alternatives fillings and increase your veggies. You can skip the meat altogether and focus on plant-based options by simply emphasizing black beans or refried beans, or by using a simple roasted vegetable like cauliflower or sweet potato. A small amount of fish is also great, as is a little chopped leftover chicken.
Meal Prep: Taco night is well-suited to prepping ahead. 1-2 days in advance, prepare your favourite toppings. When dinner arrives on taco night, you'll only have to heat & serve!
Crunchy Lunchy Taco Salad: A friendly reminder that you can make extra for 1-2 healthy lunches of taco salad! Because you took the time to prepare your taco bar with love, you've perfectly set yourself up for yummy lunches, too.
When it comes to using local foods like Black Beluga Lentils, I look for ways to incorporate them into dishes we enjoy. In this case, I suspected they would be fantastic in a "black bean" salsa and I set out to create a fresh salsa - it turned out great!
We decided to use oven roasted cauliflower as the primary taco filling, and the nerdy beauty of this salsa is that the lentils provide much of the density of protein and both soluble and insoluble fiber to the tacos as a meal, making it more satisfying, filling and energy balancing (I thought that was pretty cool :D). Yum!
This recipe for Fresh Black Lentil & Corn Salsa only takes a few minutes to assemble. If you have frozen local corn, or storage onions or garlic, definitely use those! You may also have local cold-pressed oil (camelina, sunflower, or canola) that work fine in this recipe.
The base salsa recipe refers to canned lentils as these are widely available in local grocery stores. I used my dried black beluga lentils from the Adagio Acres Winter Grain CSA, and I include the cooking instructions in the first note of the recipe. You'll need an extra 30 minutes at some point to cook the lentils if you're doing the same... and I think it's worth it!
This salsa will also make a fabulous topping for a power bowl, given the simple dressing and the nutrient rich veggies and legumes.