Cilantro Lentil Taco Bowls

I have a current obsession with grain bowls. It started over a year ago after going to a local, healthy, fast food restaurant with a coworker. The place had taken forever to open up, and when it did I was excited to try it out. I ordered this amazing quinoa and kale bowl and totally fell in love. I have been what I like to refer to as a “flexitarian” for many years, so quinoa and kale have been a part of my diet since long before they were trendy.  However, the idea of a grain bowl was something that I hadn’t tried before. It was the prefect amalgamation of flavors. I couldn’t believe that I had made it so far without this ridiculous easy concept.  It wasn’t a salad, it wasn’t grain as a side dish, it was a proper (and amazing) meal. Sadly it was also over $12 and could not be part of my daily life unless I figured out how to make it myself.

The concept of grain bowls is really simple; take the grain of your choice, top with a protein, tons of veggies and a sauce of some sort. The problem with them is properly combining flavors. There is a delicate balance between bland and way too much. Plus there is the fact that some things just don’t taste that great together. It’s really easy to get carried away, but when done right grain bowls are magic. They also are extremely versatile and a great way to use up odds and ends. When you cook as much as I do you will often find yourself with a cup of rice or one yam left behind. Grain bowls are the perfect way to make a delicious meal with things that might otherwise be a challenge.

Look at all those colors!

Look at all those colors!

So this recipe came about when I needed to use some cilantro. It had been sitting in my fridge for days and it was starting to look a bit sad. Originally I wanted to make some sort of sauce to go on fish, but then I found some brown rice and the idea was formed. You could use quinoa instead if that is what you have on hand, it would work just as well. If you wanted to make this vegan, omit the feta and use well salted avocado. Hack, even if you aren’t vegan you could just add avocado because it would be delicious! If you are normally a meat eater I ask that you give this recipe a chance before piling on steak. The lentils provide enough protein and fiber to keep you full. Plus they are incredibly cheap! Subbing pulses or beans for meat is a great way to reduce your food bill. I am not saying that you need to be vegetarian, but give it a go once and a while. Your wallet will thank you.

 

Cilantro Lentil Taco Bowls

5 Portions

$7.73 a recipe or $1.55 a serving 

 

Dressing

½ Onion, diced

2 Cups Fresh Cilantro

1 Tsp Chopped Garlic

½ Jalapeno, Minced  

½ Cups Olive Oil

1 Lime, juiced

1 Tsp Salt

 

Lentils

1 Cup Brown Lentils

3 Cups Water

1 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Tsp Chopped Garlic

1 Tsp Cumin

½ Onion, diced

 

Sweet Potatoes

2 Medium Sweet Potatoes

1 Tbsp Canola Oil

½ Tsp Ancho Chili Powder

½ Tsp Garlic Powder

 

Bowls

1 Cup Feta, Crumbled

½ Bunch Kale, Stemmed and Steamed

1 ½ Cups Long Grain Brown Rice

1 Cup Corn (frozen is okay)

 

For Dressing:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until there are no lumps

 

For Sweet Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Peel and diced potatoes

Toss with seasonings and oil

Bake for about 25 minutes depending on your oven

 

For Lentils:

Heat oil in a pot

Add onion and garlic

Sauté until translucent

Add in cumin and stir

Add lentils and coat in oil mixture

Pour in water

Bring to a boil

Cover and reduce to a simmer for approximately 25 minutes, stir occasionally 

 

Bowls:

Cook rice according to package directions

Warm corn

 

To Assemble:

Divide rice into 5 bowls, top with feta, sweet potatoes, lentils, kale and corn

Drizzle dressing over top and serve!

 

Alexandra