A lentil crust and zippy filling make these southwest taco tartlets do a salsa dance in your mouth! (Skip to recipe.)
Whenever the temperatures start plummeting and it feels like we are so deeply buried in winter that spring will never come, I start thinking of sunny climes and wishing I was somewhere tropical. . .
Wishing I was lying on a beach, sipping a margarita, nibbling something spicy and feisty, feeling the sand between my toes, and hearing the Latin beat of a mariachi band mingling with the rustling of the palm fronds overhead.
Sigh. One can dream.
And one can at least fulfill some of those fantasies. . .
So I put on my apron from Mexico, whiz up a margarita, and put on some Latin music. And I cook up something kinda spicy, with that sunny southwest zip.
These little appetizer tartlets set my tongue and my toes a'dancin'!
How to Make Tasty Little Taco Tartlets
Cook up a potful of lentils - combining two kinds (big green lentils and beluga lentils) makes for a great texture. When you mash them, the green lentils get soft and the beluga lentils stay chunky - just like the texture of cooked ground beef.
Mix your mash with egg and some tasty spices and seasonings. Then press it into mini muffin pans to make little shells for the filling.
Fill with the sour cream, salsa, and tortilla chip filling and top with cheese.
Bake to bubbling, golden deliciousness.
Add a dab of salsa and a cilantro leaf, and watch these fantastic little appetizers get gobbled up.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: The lentil mixture and sour cream mixture can be made up to 5 days ahead and stored in covered containers in the fridge, then just bake off a small batch at a time as the fiesta mood hits. If the sour cream mixture gets too stiff when made ahead, add a couple tablespoons water to loosen it up. The tartlets can also be baked, frozen, and reheated for 10 to 15 minutes in a 375°F oven.
Lentil Taco Tartlets
- ½ cup beluga lentils (or French de Puy lentils)
- ½ cup big green lentils
- 1½ cups (360 ml) water
- 1 small bay leaf
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup (240ml) sour cream
- ¼ (60ml) cup salsa
- 2 tablespoons chopped black olives
- 1 cup (85gms) crushed tortilla chips
- 1 cup (100gms) shredded extra old cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup salsa
- fresh cilantro sprigs
In a medium saucepan, combine both lentils, the water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 35 minutes, or until the water is absorbed and the lentils are tender. If the water has not all been cooked in by this time, remove the lid, turn the heat to medium and cook the lentils, stirring often, until they are so dry they are just starting to stick to the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat and mash the lentils until the green lentils are mushed and the beluga lentils are still mostly whole, to have a chunky-textured mixture. Let cool to room temperature.
Stir the egg, olive oil, cornstarch, cumin, oregano, onion powder, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne into the lentils. Mix well.
Crush the tortilla chips. (I put several handfuls chips into a bowl and crush them with the potato masher, then measure them.) In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, salsa, and crushed tortilla chips.
*Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Spray the wells of mini muffin tins with cooking oil spray or grease them well.
Scoop out slightly heaped tablespoons of the lentil crust mixture and roll them loosely into balls. Place one ball in each well of the mini muffin tins. Push the lentil mixture down with your finger to form a tart shell about ¼-inch (.5cm) thick on the bottom and sides of each muffin cup.
Place a spoonful of the sour cream filling into each tart shell, mounding it in the center. Place a small cluster of shredded cheese on top of the filling in each tartlet.
Bake the tartlets for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden-brown in spots. Let cool for 5 minutes, then use a butter knife to help release the tartlets from the pan.
Place a small dab (½ teaspoon) of salsa onto each tartlet and decorate with cilantro leaves. Serve warm, or let cool and freeze (add the salsa and cilantro after reheating).
Makes 2½ dozen appetizers.
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