Fire Garden Tacos
RED LENTIL SMEAR, SPICY SLAW, TODAY’S GRILL
By Michael Smith
In our fire garden anything can happen on a taco. We love flavourful flexibility and often share a particularly scarce or special ingredient with our guests, who in turn love the chance to try a new flavour. With Handmade Tortillas as a base and our simple taco pit formula, you’re just a few tasty ideas away from a great taco bar, too. Begin with a freshly toasted tortilla base, anchor the flavours with a smear of hearty, earthy lentils, then nestle in your favourite grilled meat, fish, or vegetable. Top with a complementary spicy, tangy slaw. It’s impossible to eat just one, so plan ahead.
Makes 36 small or 12 large tacos, serves 6 to 12
RED LENTIL SMEAR
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cumin seeds
- 1 large yellow onion, minced
- 2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup (250 mL) red lentils (or other lentils or legumes; adjust water accordingly)
- 2 cups (500 mL) water
- 1 cup (250 mL) mixed shredded vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, turnip, or beets.
- ¼ cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) cider vinegar, your favourite vinegar, or citrus juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure liquid honey
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) yellow or Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon (2 mL) sea salt
Make the Red Lentil Smear
Toss the butter into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl gently as it melts, foams, and eventually lightly browns. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the fennel seeds and cumin seeds. Continue stirring as their flavours emerge and brighten and the seeds lightly toast, about 1 minute. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cover tightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, 2 or 3 minutes more. Stir in the lentils and water. Bring to a slow, steady simmer, cover tightly, and cook for 10 minutes. Without uncovering, remove from the heat and let sit for another 10 minutes. In a food processor, purée the lentil mixture until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Make the Spicy Slaw
Toss together the shredded vegetables. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, mustard, hot sauce, and salt. Add the shredded vegetables and toss well. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight.
Assemble the Tacos
Lay a dozen or so freshly toasted tortillas on a work surface. Spread a spoonful of lentil smear on each tortilla. Add desired toppings. Top with a tangle of spicy slaw. Finish with a flourish of fresh herbs and/ or edible flowers.
1 pound (450 g) or so of your choice of grilled meat or fish, sliced into bite-sized pieces (such as beef, lamb, pork, goat, chicken, duck, turkey, tofu, lobster, salmon, scallops, tuna, halibut, eel, or sashimi-grade raw bluefin tuna)
Grilled vegetables (such as eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, or green tomatoes)
Fresh herbs (such as basil, cilantro, mint, dill, fennel, shiso, or anise hyssop)
Edible flowers (such as nasturtium, pansy, marigold, or chive or squash blossoms)
1 batch Handmade Tortillas (page 85), freshly toasted
Chef Michael Smith is a passionate advocate for simple, sustainable home cooking. He’s the host of numerous cooking shows seen in more than 100 countries. Chef Michael and his wife Chastity are the proprietors of The Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island. They’ve re-launched the property where Michael gained international fame in the 1990s with a new spirit of five-star hospitality and an innovative dining experience, the FireWorks Feast. Michael is a member of the Order of Canada, Prince Edward Island’s food ambassador, a best-selling cookbook author, innkeeper, educator, professional chef and home cook. His ten cookbooks have all been best sellers and he regularly travels the globe hosting special culinary events.
Excerpted from Farm, Fire & Feast: Recipes from the Inn at Bay Fortune by Michael Smith Copyright © 2021 Michael Smith. Photography by Al Douglas. Published by Penguin Canada®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.