Chicken Lentil Tacos
Crunchy taco shells, spicy chicken and lentils, and fresh pico de gallo make for a simple flavorful weeknight dinner. Best part about this recipe, it makes for a fast healthy meal, is easy to make ahead of time and is freezer friendly which makes leftovers versatile beyond just tacos.
Sunday already!? Woah, slowdown weekend, would ya! I shouldn’t complain, it’s been a pretty relaxing weekend so far. We started out our day with some banana protein pancakes, if you haven’t made these yet then you are definitely missing out. A giant cup of freshly pressed coffee and a stack of banana pancakes is one of our favorite ways to ease into a weekend morning where it is a bit rainy and gloomy like it is today.
There’s something special about a rainy summer morning. It makes the coffee taste that much better and even the Pup gets more cuddly.
He’s not a big fan of having to compete with my laptop and he usually tries to race my computer to my lap hoping he can sneak in some cuddles before technology steals my attention. Can’t blame the guy!
In case you missed my post yesterday on this Fast & Easy Pico de Gallo you should take a quick read, it really takes these Chicken Lentil Tacos up a notch in the fresh flavor department.
Let’s get started, shall we? Ingredients. I used ground chicken for this recipe as beef doesn’t always sit the best in our house. We’ll leave out the details, moving on! Ground chicken is also leaner than beef, but doesn’t taste nearly as “off” as ground turkey. Props to those that like ground turkey, I just can’t seem to adapt to it. Ground chicken it is!
What is that container of brown pebbles you ask? Those would be hearty and earthy brown lentils that I pulled out of my freezer. Lentils are protein dense and are a good addition to a balanced diet seeking variety of natural foods from the earth and not from a lab. I chose to add lentils to the taco meat because of their protein density and to help bulk up the tacos without weighing them down with meat. An added bonus, they are cheap when bought from the bulk bins at your local grocery store.
I had prepared a large batch of lentils according to directions found on the bulk bin which entailed boiling in some water. Pretty easy! I stored them in 2 cup containers in the freezer for a fast addition to meals including these tacos, but also add a protein punch atop a salad as they can be served hot or cold.
You will also need a vehicle to deliver your taco-ey goodness in. Yes, I just made up the word “taco-ey”, it’s what I do. We favor the Stand-n-Stuff taco shells. Why? Because they stand up of course! This makes them easier to stuff and less messy to eat. I strongly recommend whatever crunchy shells you pick out that you bake them in the oven for 6-8 minutes as the package instructs. They get much crispier that way!
For those interested in calorie or carb content, did you know that crunchy shell tacos have fewer calories and carbs then soft tortillas? I remember when I learned this little tidbit and it was mind blowing to me for some reason. I thought the crunchy shells would be worse, but a serving on 3 crunchy shells is fewer calories than 1 soft shell (on average).
Brown and crumble up your ground chicken and when it is close to being done, add in your pre-cooked lentils, taco seasoning of choice and ¼ cup of water. Let cook for an additional 5 minutes until the lentils are hot and taco seasoning is well incorporated.
Serve up your tacos with some fresh pico de gallo, a light sprinkle of 2% Mexican cheese (optional) and enjoy!
- 2 lbs. ground chicken
- 2 cups brown lentils, cooked till al dente according to package
- Taco seasoning packet, we like Trader Joe's
- 1/4 cup water
- 2% Mexican cheese (optional)
- Pico de Gallo
- Brown and crumble ground chicken in skillet over medium high heat. Cook until 80% cooked through, then add pre-cooked lentils, taco seasoning and water and finish browning.
- Toast taco shells in oven according to package instructions
- Serve with a sprinkle of Mexican cheese (optional) and a generous serving of pico de gallo
Make ahead the taco meat and lentils on Sunday and enjoy through out the week. Also freezer friendly for tacos in a few weeks or served atop a taco salad for a make-ahead lunch.
Have a read through the ingredient list on your taco seasoning packet to make sure the ingredients are clean, pure spices and no funky additives. This is why we like the Trader Joe's brand. Note, the TJ's taco seasoning is quite spicy so one packet easily covers 2 lbs. of meat.
Do you have a weekend breakfast tradition?