Taco Salad

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Taco salad is one of our all-time favorite fun meals. We love this stuff…it’s way up there on the addiction meter and it really has all the elements of a great meal (in my humble opinion).  It's dinner a bowl which is awesome in itself, but then there's the crunch of the chips, the spicy flavors of the meat, the sweet tomato, the creamy avocado, the salty olive, the cheese... it all comes together to create the perfect bite which always turns into several more than I had planned on.

But there are two problems that ALWAYS occur with this taco salad….

   #1.  No matter how hard you try to just make enough for 2 or 3 people, it is absolutely impossible.  Go ahead.  Try.  When you start putting the lettuce and beans and olives, etc. in that bowl, you feel like you’ve got this down to a manageable amount for two.  Then you add the meat, then you add then cheese, then you add the chips, and before you know it, you’re fishing around for a bigger bowl and stuff is falling on the floor and once again, you’re buried in a beautiful avalanche of taco salad.

     #2.  It’s absolutely impossible not to overeat.  I have never in my life been able to stop at one bowl, and I have never not (2 negatives make this a positive) felt like a stuffed pig after this meal.

But in its favor, I have to say that there is not one bad thing in here for you.  I use ground turkey.  I make my own chips.  I make my own Ranch dressing, and the rest is just cheese and tomatoes and beans and olives and lettuce.  A very healthy pig-out if ever there was one.

I dare you to eat just one bowl (but you really shouldn’t).

Taco Salad

You can take a few shortcuts here by using store-bought chips, ranch dressing and taco seasoning.  I like to make my own and have given you my recipes below.  

For a printable recipe, click here

Serves 4-6 (sometimes)

1 lb. Ground turkey
Taco Seasoning (recipe below)
¾ cups water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 onion chopped
1 can olives, sliced
1 lb cheddar cheese, grated
Ranch dressing (recipe below)
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges
1 (or 2) avocados, chunked
1 pkg tortilla chips (or the equivalent of homemade baked ones)
1 head iceburg lettuce, broken into bite-sized pieces (or crispy romaine)

Taco Seasoning:

1 ½  Tablespoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

Mix together the taco seasonings and set aside.       

Homemade Ranch Dressing:
1 cup each mayonnaise and buttermilk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons Morton's Nature's Seasons (or similar seasoned salt)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons each chopped fresh chives and parsley
2 teaspoons freeze-dried or fresh, chopped dill 

Combine all the ingredients in a jar. Shake until thoroughly combined (or mix in a large bowl, using a whisk to combine).  Refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

For the Salad...             

Saute the onion in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil until soft.  Add the taco seasonings and cook until fragrant.  Add the tomato paste to the pan and cook until it turns a brick color (or loses its bright redness).

Add the the meat and cook until browned and add the water to make a good sauce.  Taste for salt and spicy.  Heat through and then keep warm while you assemble the rest of the salad.

Combine the lettuce, beans, olives, tomatoes, avocado and cheese.  Add in the still-warm meat and sauce and then break up the chips into the salad.  Add enough Ranch dressing to coat things pretty well and then toss everything together to combine and serve immediately while it’s still warm.