I am always on the hunt for recipes that our whole family can eat. With conflicting food allergies, meal planning can be tricky, but we have found a lot of things that work for everybody. I'm also working on ways I can add in more nutritional value, so this recipe is a great one.
We like Mexican food. It's pretty much all Donny's family ate when he was growing up. One of the first foods Raya willingly ate more than one taste of was beans. As much as we love beans, they take a while to cook from their dried state and even with the Instant Pot, I feel like it takes a long time to make beans. We tried lentils a few years ago and holy moly, lentils are AWESOME. They have a similar flavor and texture to dried beans (important for a child with oral sensory issues & strong food preferences!) but they're smaller and cook in a fraction of the time. They're very nutritious, with about 15 grams of fiber, 17 grams of protein, and less than a gram of fat per cup of cooked lentils. They are also a great source of folate and iron. Quinoa is also an excellent source of nutrition, and is a source of all of the essential amino acids. Adding quinoa to a recipe like this is a great way to introduce it to kids because it blends in well with the colors of the food and takes on the flavor of everything else. Another great thing about quinoa is that it can be ground and used as flour in gluten-free baking, and is considered a low allergenic food.
And then there's the Instant Pot. Oh, how I love the Instant Pot. In case you're not familiar, it's an electric pressure cooker that is pretty much the coolest small kitchen appliance ever. I have the 6 quart, 7-in-1 model and I love it so much that I almost want 2, and when I get my next one, it will be bigger to accommodate the appetites of my growing children.
Instant Pot Lentil Tacos with Quinoa
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb ground beef (optional)
1 1/2 cups brown lentils, rinsed
1/4 cup red quinoa, rinsed
1 can tomatoes with green chiles (we puree slightly because some of us don't like chunks)
1 can vegetable or beef broth
1 small can tomato sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
Crispy taco shells, flour tortillas, or tortilla chips (for nachos)
Shredded cheese, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and lettuce
Pour oil in Instant Pot liner and push Saute' button. When the oil is hot, saute' the onions until opaque and then add ground beef. Cook until browned. (We usually use paper towels at this point to soak up the grease but that's optional too.) Turn the Instant Pot off.
(*Or you can brown the ground beef separately and add it to the cooked lentil mixture after cooking.)
Add 1 1/2 cups rinsed lentils and 1/4 cup rinsed quinoa. Any quinoa will do but I liked the red because it blended in and nobody noticed it. Add in tomatoes, broth, tomato sauce, and seasonings and stir to combine everything evenly.
Put on the Instant Pot lid and turn valve to sealed position. Select Manual and set the time to 20 minutes. Once it's done, you can do a natural pressure release (NPR) or quick release (QR). I was busy when it finished so I did about 10 minutes of NPR and then QR for the rest of it.
This feeds our family of 7, and we have some very hungry teens who eat 4-5 tacos each. To extend the recipe to feed more people, add in a large can of refried beans after cooking the lentil mixture. We usually eat it on crispy shells but have also put it over tortilla chips as nachos and on flour tortillas for burritos. The dairy-allergic kids eat it with lettuce and Daiya cheese since that is also free of the other things one of them is allergic to. The wheat-allergic/rice-allergic kid eats it on crispy corn taco shells or with corn tortilla chips but has also just eaten it plain because it's really just that delicious.
(Unfortunately, I did not take pictures after it was cooked because it was a busy evening and everybody was hungry so they wolfed it down before I had a chance, but I'll add pictures next time I make it.)
This recipe can also be cooked on the stovetop. To do that, brown the ground beef and then remove it from the pan and set it aside. Add oil to the pan and saute' onions, then add lentils, quinoa, and seasonings to the pan and stir. Cook for about a minute. Then add everything else to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 25 minutes or until lentils are soft and have absorbed most of the liquid. Then stir in ground beef and refried beans, if desired.
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