30 May 2013

Layered Taco Salad - Tacos the Lazy Way

Taco Salad is one of my favorite easy breezy meals for summer. All the benefits of tacos, without any of the drawbacks. It tastes like tacos, but you can make it several hours or even a day ahead, with no last-minute frying of tortillas and fussing with filling individual tacos. On those too-hot-to-cook days, you can fry up the ground beef in the cool morning hours and assemble the salad at your leisure, pop it in the fridge and forget it.
Bring it out for everyone to admire before you mess it up. If you fill it to the brim like I did, you'll need to dump it into an even bigger bowl for tossing with the chips. It's such a satisfying one-dish meal I, the breadaholic, do not even need bread with it (or my homemade flour tortillas)! It's just as good with ground turkey, and vegetarians can leave out the meat altogether. Add green onions, bell peppers and corn, if you like.

This was made with almost all organic ingredients. Do you feel it's important to buy organic food? Another question, since summer is on its way: What is your favorite busy-day, too-hot-to-cook dinner? 

Taco Salad

(Serves 6)

The Meat

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound extra lean ground beef (I use organic)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup chunky salsa 

The Dressing 

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayo
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons chunky salsa 

The Salad

3 romaine hearts, sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped and drained
1 6-ounce can sliced ripe olives
3 ripe medium avocados, coarsely chopped
Juice of half a lemon or lime
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar and/or Jack cheese
White corn tortilla chips, reserved for last minute

1 In a medium skillet, heat oil and add the ground beef. (If you're using a fattier ground beef than I do, you won't need the oil and you will need to drain the fat off after cooking.) Cook, breaking it up, until very well browned. Stir in the chunky salsa and continue cooking until most of the liquid has evaporated. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill until ready to assemble salad.

2 Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill until ready to assemble salad.

3 In a large bowl, like this very inexpensive straight-sided 5-quart glass salad bowl, layer ingredients. If you don't care about presentation, you can use just any large bowl. But I've found that dinner guests enjoy looking at the layers before the salad is tossed, so I use a clear glass bowl that has straight sides and is about 9 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep. Of course, when I fill it to the brim there is no room in that bowl for tossing, so after everyone admires it I dump the salad into an even larger bowl for tossing.

4 It doesn't really matter in what order you layer the ingredients, but I like to put the romaine on the bottom and separate it with a layer of sour cream from ingredients I want to salt; that way the lettuce will stay crisp until serving time. Throw a handful of cilantro over every layer and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the bean, cucumber, tomato and avocado layers.

5 Gently toss the chopped avocado with the lemon or lime juice. Make it the last vegetable layer. Spread the dressing evenly over the avocado layer. Top with the shredded cheese. Cover and refrigerate until serving time (anywhere from 2 to 24 hours). Bring it out for "presentation," then dump it into a very large bowl, throw on as many handfuls of white corn tortilla chips as you see fit (breaking them up slightly), toss and serve.  


Stephanie said...

That looks super delicious!

Patrice Anita said...

The salad sounds wonderful and I plan to make it...to answer your question about organics...Yes, I feel it is very important to eat organic food, it is a top priority for me and many times I will bypass something if I can't get it organic. Fortunately, it is much easier to find organics now than it has been so I don't have to forgo much anymore.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Stephanie!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Patrice, thank you! Glad to meet another person who feels the same way I do about organic food.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Yummm!I'm even looking over your Layered Taco Salad after eating dinner--and it still makes my mouth water!

You make everything look so good. Fabulous presentation.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Sue! I wish I could present food half as well as my mother did.

Unknown said...

lol.. I have to laugh, Jean, as I just made a taco salad the other day. And I haven't made one in ages! Great minds really do think alike! :) Yours looks amazing!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jenn, isn't it funny how we just stop making something for a long time, then make it and wonder why we haven't made it in so long?!

@iloveGarick said...

Wow, I'm glad you made it with organic ingredients. Because looking at it; my first thoughts were.. "Oh, Taco Bell in a bowl."

Nutrition *does* make a difference to me!

*great meeting you via #kitchenparty, I look forward to following your recipes

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Resolved: try Jeani’s no-fuss, appetizing, HEALTHY layered taco salad. 5 “clever” cleavers. Lots of tastebud friendly ingredients. Even the Tyranosaurus Rex of Minnesota is onboard with this one.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Garick! I am ALL about organic, local, sustainable, etc, and making even desserts as healthfully as possible. Glad to meet another cook interested in nutrition!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Ooh, I'm so excited - it's been a long time since I got 5 Cleavers from you, Sully!

Richard Sheppard said...

I know my wife would like this. She'd still probably add more lettuce than I would to the dish. I always use little bowls for each ingredient which is fun, but time consuming and lots to clean up. This makes it easy with just one bowl! And carb free too!
Yes, organic is always better. I'll never serve Monsanto.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Richard, thank you, and thank you for not supporting "M" (I can't even say the name!).

LANA said...

Organic is top priority at our house. We do eat meat occasionally and dairy, but it is always organic. No chemicals, GMO's or pesticides, thank you! No wonder everyone is getting cancer! I love taco salad, but I stopped putting tacos in it because once I almost choked! Now I make it like yours but put the chips on the side, or roll it up in a SOFT burrito! Looks yummy!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Lana! And I'm so glad you're into organic. The GMOs and chemicals are sooooo scary!

Charles said...

Hi Jean, I absolutely love tacos! Can you believe I'd never had them before I met my wife?! They're very popular in Sweden though so she was more than willing to oblige in "making me see the light", lol!

The salad looks fantastic - the first thing I thought of actually was that it reminds me of a Russian dish, called "Herring under a fur coat" (yeah, really!) - I had a friend of mine guest-post it on my blog some time ago!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Well, Charles, Taco Salad may not sound as amusing as Herring Under a Fur Coat, but I'm sure it's more popular outside a particular area! Not crazy about herring, but love that name; must check it out!

Sippity Sup said...

I remember my first taco salad (probably the 1970s). My mom made it and I thought it was deceptively easy. Though I think she called them poor man's tacos. But I don't understand why. Maybe old time crunchy taco shells were expensive and tortilla chips were not. Oh wait. I remember now. My mom served it on Fritos! Now I get it. GREG

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Greg, thanks for reminding me of the 70s! And, wow, it's probably been that long since I've had Fritos!