The Taco Salad Stratosphere

My husband Josh and I enjoy a good taco salad.  What’s not to like about a meal that’s super easy to make and is what nachos would be if they were a salad?

So, I made a taco salad recently. The kids had heard only part of the menu and were excited for tacos. After they saw no shells, and instead a large bowl of chopped lettuce, they eventually managed to choke back the bitter disappointment and try it out. Nonchalant but praying that they would eat it, I waited for the verdict.

“I will eat 18 bowls of this salad!” declared my 6 year old. Score! “I will not eat this. It is yuck. I want just the lettuce, cheese, and beans,” declared my 3 year old. Fine, I’ll take that.  And my husband… well, he declared (on Twitter to all SEVEN of his followers – @joshmarlow if you’d like to show him some follow-love) that we had reached the “taco salad stratosphere”. It was a bold (and quite ridiculous) statement. It was not untrue.

Here is the now-legendary Taco Salad recipe for you.  It’s not fancy. It’s not for highbrow foodies. It’s not 100% made-from-scratch. It’s not low in sodium. But damn, it was a tasty weeknight crowd pleaser!

Amy’s Taco Salad – Serves 2 adults, 2 children

1. Slice some carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, cucumber rounds and serve (with or without a healthy dip) as an appetizer before the meal. This is not a veggie-heavy salad.

2. Chop enough lettuce for the family (I used organic romaine hearts) and put into a large bowl.

3. Make Cilantro Lime vinaigrette: This is a semi-homemade dressing which starts with a packet of Good Seasons Italian dressing (which seems like it could be junky, but it’s actually all-natural and I happen to like the flavor) plus 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/4 cup water, 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice, and 1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro.  Toss the lettuce with a small-ish amount of dressing, to taste. (Don’t skip this. I think that tossing the lettuce in the dressing first was key.)

4. Brown 1/2 pound ground beef or turkey (definitely organic), drain all fat, return to the pan and add 1/2 a packet of Old El Paso Mild taco seasoning (I hate to admit this part – these seasoning packets are full of sodium and preservatives and I should have just made a homemade seasoning but I just didn’t) and 1/3 cup water. Bring to a boil and cook until it thickens, about 3 – 4 minutes. Remove to a serving bowl.

5. Drain and rinse a can of black beans and put into a small serving bowl. I used no-added-sodium Eden Organic beans. (I like that there’s no BPA in the lining of their cans.)

6. Shred about 1/2 cup of cheese into another small serving bowl. I used a delish queso blanco, made nearby in the lovely Hudson Valley by the Amazing Real Live Food Co., procured at my local farmer’s market.

7. Serve the salad make-your-own style with all the aforementioned components on the table, plus salsa (fresh, if possible) and reduced fat sour cream.  We also serve with multigrain tortilla chips on the side.

Superlative-worthy?  You be the judge. Enjoy!


Filed under Misc.

4 responses to “The Taco Salad Stratosphere

  1. Diane

    Yummy, thanks for sharing! Sounds out of this world to me!!

    I love that you love that dressing too! Yes some packets are okay now and then. 🙂 And I’m sure you have a recipe for your own taco seasoning, but in case you don’t, here’s mine: I make this taco seasoning ahead of time and store it in a jar and then use about 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup water per 1 pound of meat/beans. Sometimes I brown onion with the meat for more flavor.
    2 tablespoons chili powder
    5 teaspoons paprika
    4 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    2 to 3 teaspoons salt (I usually use 2 in the batch of seasonings, and then add some to taste if it needs a little more once I’m making the meat)
    2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    • Thanks Diane! I will try your recipe – it sounds perfect. I don’t know why I’ve been so lazy/lame with the taco seasoning lately!… it’s not like I don’t have those ingredients in the pantry at all times. Thanks for sharing! -Amy

  2. Jen Camalier Leonard

    This was a hit at my house as well…my picky 4 and 2 year old’s ate it up and asked for more!!

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