Boxcar Bean Tacos

A simple taco recipe that swaps beef for beans.  

bean tacos

I honestly would be ok never having another ground beef taco again. The lentil beans were indistinguishable. And dare I say, even more delicious. They absorb so much of flavor from the seasoning and salsa, that you can’t tell the difference, except they don’t have that weird chewiness you sometimes get with ground meat.  

For the lentil beans, you can opt for dry beans, which mean more flavor, but also more time (about half an hour or so). Or swap in canned lentils for convenience and quickness (which is what I did, but I added a recipe for both).  

I left the recipe open for a lot of interpretation. For example, feel free to use your favorite taco seasoning packet. I opted for Taco Bell’s original taco seasoning mix. And for the salsa, I actually went with a Roasted Chipotle Street Taco Sauce from Culinary Tours, which had the perfect amount of smoky chipotle heat to add to the faux meatiness flavor of the lentils. But with so many taco sauces and salsas available, you can come back to this recipe again and again and  change it up each time.  

My last piece of advice on this one – if the beans and seasonings get too runny, add some corn starch, just a few pinches at a time to thicken it up. And for the opposite, if things are too thick for your liking, add a bit of salsa or a splash of chicken/vegetable stock.  

Time You Need 

  • Prep: ~10 minutes 
  • Cooking: ~30 minutes (depends on if using dried or canned lentils)  
  • Servings: ~10-12 small tacos  

What You Need 

  • 1 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 small onion, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 3 15 oz cans of brown lentils, drained (or ~1 cup of dry lentils)  
  • ~2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock  
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning  
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste 
  • 1 tbsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp chili powder 
  • 1/2 cup of salsa of choice 
  • Taco toppings of choice, such as avocado, cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomato, onion,  cilantro, cheese, sour cream, etc. 
  • Tortillas for serving  

What You Do 

  • In a medium sauce pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for about 5-7 minutes.  
  • If using canned lentils:  
  • In the same large skillet, add lentils, garlic, onion, and stock, and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, chili powder and cumin.  
  • Drain excess liquid then stir in salsa, taco seasoning packet. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about ~ 10 minutes.  
  • Remove from heat. 
  • Serve on tortilla along with desired taco toppings.  
  • If cooking dry lentils:  
  • In a large pot, add stock and dry lentils.  
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and let it simmer for 25 to 30 minutes until the lentils are tender and fully cooked.  
  • Drain excess liquid then season with salt and pepper, chili powder and cumin, and add cooked garlic and onion.  
  • Stir in salsa and the taco seasoning packet. Bring to a boil, then cook on a low simmer for about ~10 minutes.  
  • Remove from heat.  
  • Serve on tortilla along with desired taco toppings.  
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