The year 2016 has been declared the International Year of Pulses by the United Nations to celebrate one of the world’s most important foods: the edible seeds of the legume family.

Beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils are packed with fibre, protein, nutrients, and flavour. Their nutritional intensity, inexpensive accessibility, and ease of cooking have made them indispensible staples to cooks all over the globe.

Wherever we live, we all do our best to make healthy choices at home but it’s a lot easier when those choices are delicious. These meatless tacos are stuffed with so much sunny southwestern flavour that no one will notice anything missing. What a great way for your family to join families around the world in a global celebration of flavour and nutrition!

Yield: Makes> 12 Tacos Serves> 4 to 6


Pulse filling 
2 Tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 heaping Tbsp (18 mL) chili powder
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1 cup (250 mL) green lentils
1 19oz (540 mL) can of your favourite beans or chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 cups (500 mL) water
1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) of your favourite hot sauce

Taco toppings
A head of Bibb or iceberg lettuce
12 hard taco shells
A few handfuls of grated cheddar or taco blend cheese
Your favourite salsa
A large bunch of fresh cilantro
2 limes, cut into wedges


Make the pulse filling: Splash the vegetable oil into a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Toss in the onions, garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Sauté until the vegetables soften and the spice flavours brighten, 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in the lentils, beans, water, and salt. Bring the works to a slow, steady simmer. Cover tightly and continue slowly cooking until the lentils are tender, 35 minutes or so. Stir in the hot sauce.

Assemble the tacos: Fit a full leaf of lettuce into a hard taco shell. This will hold the fillings in when the hard shell inevitably breaks. Fill each taco with a heaping spoonful of the lentil bean filling. Pack with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Serve with the lime wedges and share!

© Chef Michael Smith –