Celebrate Taco Tuesday by building your own taco bar with this quick and easy recipe. The filling—a combination of lentils, refried beans, and seasonings—takes only about 20 minutes to make, and while it’s simmering, you can set the table with all your favorite taco fixings. Leftovers make a great next-day lunch rolled into tortillas or piled onto a big tossed salad. Prep tip: Wear gloves and be careful not to rub your face when working with fresh hot chiles, which contain a spicy, burning compound that can stick to your skin.

From The Engine 2 Cookbook


  • 2 large sweet onions, chopped (2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
  • ½ fresh jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked brown lentils or two (15-ounce) cans lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fat-free vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water, plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas, warmed
  • Toppings such as shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, red onion, avocado, fresh cilantro, and salsa or taco sauce


  1. Combine the onions, bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic in a large skillet. Cook over high heat until tender, stirring occasionally and adding water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to prevent sticking.
  2. Stir in the lentils, refried beans, stock, and taco seasoning mix. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until slightly thick, adding up to 1 cup more stock to reach the desired consistency.
  3. Serve the lentil mixture in tortillas with toppings.

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about the author

Rip and Jane Esselstyn

Rip and Jane Esselstyn, the children of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, are a brother-sister team dedicated to educating others about the benefits of a plant-based diet. Rip was a firefighter in the Austin fire department when he discovered dangerously high cholesterol levels among his firefighter comrades and led a stationwide dietary revolution that resulted in markedly better health, which he detailed in his bestselling book, The Engine 2 Diet. Jane, RN, is a wellness instructor and a plant-strong presenter and cook. Jane co-authored The Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook with her mother, Ann, and developed recipes for My Beef with Meat. Rip and Jane brought together their years of experience to co-author The Engine 2 Cookbook.

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