I was going to post this yesterday but it was 9/11 and there is a particular something in NYC that makes it feel different… heavy and distracted. I mean I went out to lunch with my friend Sarah and we were the only ones in the restaurant. Every store I stopped at on the walk home was a ghost town. It was just not a day for celebrating vegan Mexican-themed lettuce wraps or as Betty introduced them to me – Inside Out Tacos.
Now if you’ve ever had the original meat and cheese based Inside Out Taco – you might notice ours is different in a lot of ways but honestly I think we’ve leveled it up… not just by making it vegan but with the limes and seasoning. This dinner is simple, fast, easy to personalize and great for nights when someone didn’t tell the weather summer is over so it needs to stop being a total humid jerk (like this week) and you don’t want to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen. I just wish we’d made it sooner. Our summer would have been improved by at least 30%*.
This clever way to reinvent what we have come to call The Taco** is a little messy to eat – like all lettuce wraps in my experience but I’m forgiving because – well how can you be mad at any vehicle for salsa?
Inside Out Tacos
1 can Black Bean, drained and rinsed
1 can Lentils, drained and rinsed
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 Red Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
Dash of Liquid Smoke
Dash of Hot Sauce
1 cup Whole Tortilla Chips
1-2 heads of Lettuce with sturdy leaves, we used Bibb but there is also Boston and of course Iceberg
Toppings – diced Avocado, sliced Jalapeños, sliced Black Olives, shredded Vegan Cheese, fresh Cilantro, your favorite Salsa and/or Guacamole
4 Limes, cut into wedges
Heat your Olive Oil over a medium heat in your favorite and deepest cast iron skillet. Once your skillet is hot, toss in your Beans, Garlic, Onions, Braggs, Onion Powder, Cumin, Paprika, Liquid Smoke and Hot Sauce. Cook your Beans mix until your Onions are tender. Make sure to flip and mix your Beans mix a few times with a spatula to make sure it cooks evenly.
While your Beans cook, cut and prepare your toppings and break off the whole Lettuce leaves at the base and set them aside.
Then remove your Beans mix from heat once your Onions are tender and gently crush the Tortilla Chips just once over your skillet. You don’t want them to become dust just smaller bite-sized pieces. Mix your Chips in with your spatula.
Serve your Beans mix warm with all the toppings and Lettuce leaves there so people can make their own combinations. To eat – hold a Lettuce leaf in your palm and fill with a little Beans mix and then sprinkle a pinch of whatever toppings you like over the top. Finish your taco off with a squeeze of Lime over the top.
I find the key to a successful lettuce wrap/inside out taco is not being greedy and trying to add too much to one wrap/taco. We live in an imperfect world my friends where lettuce is not the best load bearing material.
But it is delicious with taco stuff stuffed in it. So let’s make some!
*Again this is Annie math and not based on any real data – more of a cosmic inexplicable understanding.
**Pronounced Tac-O for those of you with a severe aversion to ‘ethnic cuisine’ is severe.