It was a “ bunch of chopped bits” kind of evening meal. I had planned to make taco salad for dinner and make a fresh fruit salad as a side dish. Wow was that was a lot of cleaning and chopping! Was it worth it? Probably.. but next time I’ll plan the meal on a day I didn’t spend 10 hours with the 5 grandkids!
I’d been craving taco salad since the pandemic began. I prefer to let a restaurant make the salad for me. I suppose I could have gotten take out but we didn’t do take out anywhere that took the salad seriously. Know what I mean? Some places seem to randomly throw ingredients together and the salad isn’t as good as it should be.
While the beef, tomatoes and beans simmered I chopped the rest of the toppings. I used cherry tomatoes because I like their texture in each mouthful. They also have more flavor than a plain ole diced garden variety tomato. I halved them and put them in a small bowl.
I had fresh green onions and live them in lettuce salads if any kind. I washed and diced enough green onion to have a couple of tablespoons on each salad.
I already had shredded cheese. I chose a packet that said it was a Mexican blend. I’m not sure what kinds were blended. It just sounded right and I didn’t bother reading.
Black olives are a must for us in taco salad. That’s one of the ways I know if the restaurant is serious about their salad. Anybody can throw a handful of sliced jalapeño and other peppers on the salad to burn the heck out of our mouthes. A smart cook knows olives are necessary for flavor! I opened up a small can of sliced olives, drained them and set them aside.
Ordinarily I would have an avocado on hand to dice and garnish the taco salads. Unfortunately we try not to run to the store until we have a bigger list at this time. So no avo this time. Sad face.
For some reason I’ve always preferred Italian dressing on my taco salad. I think maybe it was a recipe suggestion back in my “new wife with large new cookbook” days. Hey maybe it was my early discovery of fusion cooking. Italian and Mexican? Worked for me and still works for me. My P.S. disagrees and dresses his own salads as desired.
All set but for the lettuce. I stand firm on using iceberg. I know, I know everyone like to trash my favorite lettuce. I like the crunch and substance to the lettuce. Other lettuces seem pre-wilted to me. Wiggly and.. soft. So I cheerfully dice the iceberg into small pieces so I can get many in each forkful along with the other bits. Give me a bowl of jumbo lettuce pieces and I will spend a long time in your restaurant cutting up my salad with a steak knife.
My bits all cut up, meat sauce simmered and perfect, time to assemble the salads. In large bowls I first divide up the lettuce. Beware of overkill. It’s easy to start with too much lettuce and end up with salads so huge neither of us are going to finish them! You may be starving, but trust me on this. And leftover taco salad is disgusting.
Next I ladle our the meat and bean sauce, followed by shredded cheese. This helps the cheese melt a bit and not just fall off every forkful.
Finally I take tortilla chips by small handfuls and crush them a little before I place them on top of my salad. My P.S. disagrees and places whole chips on the side. He prefers to use them as scoops as he eats the salad. To each their own. Shrug.
Not a very spicy salad, you’re thinking? I don’t care for spicy, the meat is spiced enough for me. I’m a supertaster and my mouth burns too easily. I do have jars of pickled jalapeños that my P.S. adds to his salad.
We add our dressing of choice and dinner is served. For a side that is really more of a dessert, I made a fresh fruit salad from our fridge full of favorites. I’ll make that another post. Lots more chipping!
Taco Salad Bowl
A salad with all of the taco trimmings.
- 1# ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
- can of black beans; drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 cup black beans; drained and rinsed
- iceberg lettuce; chopped in 1” pieces
- 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexican blend)
- Handful of cherry tomatoes; halved
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- Small can sliced olives; drained
- Tortilla chips
- Dressing of choice (I suggest Italian)
- Sliced pickled jalapeños (optional)
In a nonstick skillet add grown beef, salt and pepper. Saute until browned.
Stir in can of tomatoes, tomato paste, seasonings and black beans. Simmer on medium low for 30 minutes. For a quicker meal, prepare meat sauce a day ahead of time and microwave to heat.
In large bawls layer lettuce, meat and bean sauce, cheese, cherry tomatoes, green onions and sliced olives.
Top with crushed tortilla chips and jalapeños if desired