Sunday, March 05, 2017

Taco Salad

Taco salad is a delicious indulgence you can find on the menu at almost any neighborhood Mexican restaurant.  Fill a gloriously puffy, golden-deep-fried flour tortilla bowl with copious amounts of lard-laced refried beans, shredded cheese, and seasoned ground beef, then garnish with a sprinkle of (often iceberg) lettuce, anemic diced tomato, sour cream, salsa, sometimes guacamole, and a few sliced black olives.  Sounds delicious!  But also ... I feel like I'd need a nap afterwards.  Oof!  Since I feel like a salad should typically be a healthy, frequently-enjoyed meal and not an occasional indulgence, I decided it would be best to keep the spirit and flavor of the original taco salad, but adjust the portions - significantly increase the lettuce and fresh veggies, chill out on the animal fats, and top with a few crushed tortilla chips.  The end result is a taco salad we can enjoy every day, but still tastes as delicious as our favorite Mexican restaurant staple.  (Added bonus?  You won't fall asleep at your desk after this lunch!)

YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads

  • 1/4 c sour cream or light sour cream
  • 1/4 c prepared salsa
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 4-8 oz chorizo, cooked, crumbled, and cooled
  • 4 oz Monterey Jack or pepper-jack cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 large or 2-3 small tomatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 2-3 hearts of romaine, shredded
  • 1-2 cups corn tortilla chips, lightly crushed

  1. Make the salsa dressing: stir together the salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.
  2. Pack the salads: divide the dressing evenly among 4 tall quart-sized containers.  Layer the black beans, chorizo, cheese, red onion, bell pepper, tomato, green onion, and romaine in the jars.  Divide the tortilla chips evenly among 4 snack-size zip-top bags for each salad.  Refrigerate until serving.
  3. Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.  Top with tortilla chips.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Substitute 1 cup canned black beans for the cooked black beans.  Use pre-shredded cheese and pre-washed/bagged lettuce.

SPECIAL DIET SWAPS:  For a vegetarian salad, omit the chorizo and increase the black beans to 2 cups.  For a vegan salad, make all of the vegetarian swaps, plus omit the cheese and use your favorite vegan sour cream in the dressing.  For a gluten-free salad, choose tortilla chips that are made from 100% corn, and use dressing ingredients labeled gluten-free.  This salad is nut-free as-is.

Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.

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