Lentil Tacos with Sliced Olives

by Dorothy Reinhold on October 8, 2012

Print This Post Print This Post Lentil Tacos with Ripe Olives

 Like most of you, I’m always looking for ways to lower the fat, amp up the nutrition and perchance save a little money while feeding my family delicious food. But underlying it all, it must taste delicious, or it is a deal breaker. After all, if no one wants to eat the stuff, it doesn’t matter how low-fat, healthy and cheap it is. It will be a waste of my time and kitchen efforts.

Isn’t that a pretty tall order some days?

Lentil Tacos with Sliced Olives. Recipe here: https://www.shockinglydelicious.com/?p=9703

My standby has become this Lentil Taco mixture. I began by using it to substitute for the ordinary taco meat you would prepare for homemade tacos (you know, ground beef, a packet of taco mix, a little water, some skillet work, and voila).

California Ripe Olives on ShockinglyDelicious.comTo make this recipe, I teamed up with Kitchen PLAY and the folks at California Ripe Olives who asked me to develop a recipe for National Taco Day, and to show off the versatility of tasty black ripe olives from my state. California produces more than 95% of the olives grown in the U.S., so if you have a can on hand, you may thank our Golden State farmers.

My family loved this meatless mixture in tacos so much that I began to use it in a lot of other ways, too:

    • in cheese quesadillas
    • in burritos with rice and cheese
    • in enchiladas
    • dabbed onto tortilla chips when I was indulging in nachos
    • loosened with additional vegetable or chicken stock and more veggies to create a soup

Soon we were addicted, and my family now prefers it to ground beef for tacos. I always have a can of ripe olives in the pantry, and they make a perfect garnish or add-in for any of these meals. At only a handful of calories per olive (6-8, depending on size), these are a garnish we can get behind! By the way, they have no cholesterol, of course, and are easy to use. Just drain off the juice, use them whole or chop them, as you like.

Lentil taco cooking process

These days my strategy is this: I make up a double recipe of Lentil Taco mix, promptly freeze half, and put the other half in the refrigerator, labeled. We eat on it all week long, in all the ways described above, and when it is gone, I pull the extra one out of the freezer and let it thaw in the frig. A few days later, we are ready for more.

It’s a delicious, endless cycle. I highly recommend it.

I often put fruit on the plate to accompany this meal – sliced ripe mangoes, sliced bananas, a bunch of grapes – whatever is on hand. Did you know the olive is a fruit, too?

Lentil taco fixings. Recipe here: https://www.shockinglydelicious.com/?p=9703

To highlight California ripe black olives we are having a Twitter party on Oct. 16 from 4-5 p.m. PST; follow the hashtag #CARipeOlives.  Join

Slicing California Ripe Olives on ShockinglyDelicious.comKitchen PLAY, California Ripe Olives and some of your favorite food bloggers to learn about this tasty, nutritious and versatile food. Have fun testing your olive knowledge and win great olive prizes! Register here.

Read all 10 posts at Kitchen PLAY celebrating National Taco Day with California Ripe Olives for clues. Each post contains an olive fact that may appear as a trivia question during the Twitter Party. A new post and fact will be revealed each day, Monday through Friday, until Oct. 12.

Now let’s make tacos!

Recipe: Lentil Tacos

Summary: The beloved taco gets a modern vegan update with lentils instead of beef, lots of spices, and a garnish of sliced ripe olives, of course. Meatless Monday, here we come!


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 (14-ounce) can lower-salt vegetable broth (or you can use chicken or beef broth)
  • 1 cup water
  • A couple squirts of Tabasco (optional)
  • 1 cup prepared chunky salsa
  • 12 hard taco shells, or soft taco-size tortillas
  • Garnishes: chopped ripe olives, shredded lettuce, chopped fresh tomato, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped avocado


  1. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet. Sauté onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Add the lentils, chili powder, cumin and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute to toast spices.
  2. Add broth, water and Tabasco (if using); bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat; cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Uncover; cook for another 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened if it is too soupy. Stir in salsa.
  3. Spoon about 1/4 cup of lentil mixture into each taco shell and top with your favorite taco
  4. fixin’s. Garnish with sliced ripe olives.
  5. Serves 6.

California Black Ripe Olives

Kitchen PLAY badgeI wrote this post and created this recipe as part of a partnership between Kitchen PLAY and California Ripe Olives.  They have compensated me for my time and cooking expenses. The content of this post is my own.

Preparation time: 7 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Diet type: Vegetarian, Vegan
Diet tags: Reduced fat
Number of servings (yield): 6
Culinary tradition: Mexican
My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Real Cheap Food July 12, 2014 at 7:50 am

Lentil tacos — what a great idea! This looks so excellent, and wonderfully tweakable. haha… . Helpful pictures, too. Thanks!


Dorothy Reinhold July 23, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Real Cheap,
Thanks, and you’re right. You can alter these in many ways to suit yourself!


Kim May 25, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I made this recipe for lunch today and I didn’t miss meat one bit. I made them like street tacos with the little corn tortillas, warmed and filled with the lentils, shredded lettuce, onions, cilantro, chopped olives, diced avocado and a squeeze of lime. They were delicious!


Melody Scott March 18, 2013 at 5:08 pm

The one and only food my husband won’t eat is lentils. But I love them, and I’m in losing weight mode. So a couple of these lentil tacos sound like they will really fit the bill! My hubbie can eat leftovers. 😉 I adore black olives, too!


Khadijah January 31, 2013 at 9:11 am

Thanks! I tried this recipe…tweaked it a bit. I used 2/3 cup lentils and then after they were done cooking, I added 1/2 lb ground beef. Cooking the lentils with the spices gave them tons of flavor. I used fresh pico de gallo to stir in at the end, and it added an awesome freshness to the dish! Great recipe.


Dorothy February 1, 2013 at 8:29 am

Great tweaks! Yeah, this recipe would be a good way to use up a bit of extra ground beef, as you did. Thanks for the compliment!


Khadijah January 7, 2013 at 1:26 am

This looks like a great idea! Do you use brown or green lentils?


Dorothy January 7, 2013 at 10:59 pm

I use ordinary brown lentils (cheap!), but you can probably use another kind if you like. They may take longer to cook, so watch your cooking time if you change the type of lentil.


Tora Estep October 12, 2012 at 5:59 am

The lentil filling sounds delicious, and I love to learn about vegetarian options for weeknight meals. Not that I ever want to stop eating meat, but eating less is good for everyone.


CJ October 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Very creative and good looking tacos!


Katie (The Muffin Myth) October 9, 2012 at 4:28 am

These look great! I’ve got a lentil loaf baking in the oven right now, and I bet the leftovers crumbled up would be great in tacos, but I’ll definitely bookmark this recipe to try as well. I love olives, and the lentil, olive combo in tacos has my mouth watering. Thanks for the recipe


Liz @ The Lemon Bowl October 8, 2012 at 1:49 pm

These look so good!!


Faye October 8, 2012 at 1:07 pm

We keep cooked lentils on hand as a staple very often and I enjoyed reading the ways you use your lentil chili. Do you sometimes use queso fresco or panela instead of cheddar?
By soft taco size tortillas do you mean the usual corn tortillas? Do you heat them first? (Hard tacos are not my favorites even though the crunch is nice because they fall apart on me, probably because I like to eat very slowly.)
This is also a great time to make salsa because there are so many good tomatoes now.


Dorothy October 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I don’t keep queso fresco or panela on hand, most often use cheddar or perhaps a Mexican Jack cheese. By soft tacos, I mean small flour tortillas that are described on the package as “soft taco size.” You could certainly use corn tortillas if you prefer them. If using corn tortillas, I would char them over a flame for a minute, although that is a personal preference.


christy October 8, 2012 at 11:47 am

we love lentils and we love tacos…love this option for a healthy dinner. thinking the lentil mixture would be delicious in a seven layer dip too! YUM!


Dorothy October 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Absolutely on the 7-layer dip. Try the lentils in this, too: https://www.shockinglydelicious.com/walking-tostada-for-sundaysupper/


sippitysup October 8, 2012 at 9:00 am

Lentils! That’s a great idea. GREG


Dorothy October 8, 2012 at 11:28 am

Thanks! It is really, really tasty. I’m going to eat the last of them wrapped up in a tortilla for lunch today. Yum!


Lane @ Supper for a Steal October 8, 2012 at 7:36 am

I’m going to embrace lentils this fall! Lentil soup and now lentil tacos. Thanks for the recipe. I look forward to try.


Dorothy October 8, 2012 at 8:37 am

Yes, embrace lentils! This is a good recipe to start!


Rituparna October 8, 2012 at 7:29 am

This looks so delicious!
Shockingly delicious !


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