Savoury, hearty tacos filled with sweet bites of butternut squash, puy lentils, and a lipsmackingly umami tahini and miso sauce. These will fill your belly space with healthy, easy, dinnertime joy.Okay, I think I’ve hit peak cookie, chocolate, dessert, shiny-wrapped sweet consumption. I’m ready for some savoury. My body is craving veggies and hearty umami flavours; it’s begging to reset my tastebuds to get my body ready for an amazing 2016. And so, we do the veggie taco and fill it with all of our favourite healthy, hearty things and top it off with a sauce that will blow your tastebuds out of the water. These tacos should really be named kitchen-cabinet tacos because I keep all of the ingredients on hand throughout the year and so they are super easy to whip up even when I can’t be bothered going to the shops after work. See, there is nourishment hiding in plain sight when you care to open your eyes to it. Much like bubble baths, extended sessions of snuggling on the couch with a loved one, or laughing your way through a Step class with your sister, you can find pockets of nourishment anywhere you care to look. If you have pre-cooked puy (or French) lentils in your freezer then these tacos become even easier to whip up. If you need to cook them as part of this recipe, it only adds 20 minutes to the cooking time, and they can easily bubble away on the stove while you chop the creamy sweet butternut squash, onion, and garlic. These three are sauteed with a touch of chilli flakes (feel free to leave these out if you aren’t keen on a little kick, or are serving small ones), cumin, and coriander. And then it’s all about the sauce. Oh this sauce. It’s creamy without any cream thanks to the tahini, which also adds a nutty background flavour. And it’s super savoury and slightly salty with a little funky (like-a-mushroom) edge all owing to our favourite fermented bean paste: miso! Miso is the personality in this sauce, and it pairs with the slightly sweet butternut squash and toothsome lentils in a marriage of equals greater than the sum of its parts. This recipe would be great for serving a crowd, simply whip up the filling, stir together the dressing, and warm up a big pile of small corn tortillas. Leave everything out on the kitchen counter for everyone to serve themselves and sit back and watch the party get started. I think, in fact, that this would make a perfect New Year’s Eve dinner, or perhaps late night champagne-soak-up snack. If you are going for the second option you could make everything ahead of time, then gently reheat the filling on the stove and save warming your tortillas until just before serving. If you’re catering for omnivores some shredded roast chicken would go well here too.
Butternut and Lentil Tacos with Tahini-Miso Sauce
Vegan | Gluten Free | Serves 3 heartily, easily multiplied | Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days
For the filling
- 1 cup Puy (French) lentils
- 3 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 1/2 cups chopped butternut squash (about 1/2 medium sized squash)
- 1 small red onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
For the sauce
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons miso paste
- 2-3 tablespoons hot water
- 6 small corn tortillas
- 3 cups mixed baby lettuce leaves
- Firstly, cook the lentils. Rinse lentils well and place in a medium saucepan with 3 cups of cool water and the bay leaves. Bring water to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until the lentils are al dente: firm but cooked all the way through. Once the lentils are cooked, drain well and set aside until needed.
- While the lentils are cooking make the squash. Heat the olive oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent. then add garlic, butternut squash cubes and spices. Stir so everything is coated with spices. Saute until squash cubes are cooked all the way through but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Keep stirring regularly so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Once the lentils are cooked and the squash is cooked through add the drained lentils to the squash mixture and stir gently so everything is well combined.
- To make the sauce stir together the tahini, miso paste, and 2 tablespoons of warm water until a thick, runny consistency is achieved. You may need to add an extra tablespoon of water if required.
- Warm your tortillas and serve with the lettuce leaves for crunch.