Taco salad makeover

It’s not a town in southeastern Idaho.

Nor is it a suburb of Dubai, India.

It’s a salad! It’s a meal! It’s a malad! Okay. Not the catchiest name, but what else can we call these one bowl wonders? One of our favorite malads is taco salad. Even Alia will eat this one . . . not without a bit of prodding because of the vile, crunchy stuff known as lettuce, but – hey – you can’t have everything.

Before I came across this recipe, my experience with taco salads was limited to those served in restaurants, if you call Taco Bell a restaurant. I grew up on those taco “salads” – a big, greasy flour tortilla filled with ground beef (possibly mixed with pink slime?), cheese and a little, tiny bit of green stuff. This recipe from Cook’s Illustrated ditches the big, greasy shell for crushed tortilla chips. You know. The ones in the bottom of the bag that you throw away? Start saving them. When you have a few cups, make this salad. If you can’t wait, take out a rolling pin and crush the crap out of whole ones. This is also a very greens forward recipe. You may have noticed the whole meat thing. I use a mix of Yves Meatless Ground Round and canned black beans instead. You could easily just use beans or stick with the ground beef, of course.

Malad is not the most appetizing name, but don’t let that keep you from trying this updated taco salad. Better than Taco Bell – guaranteed.

Taco Salad (serves 4 generously)

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 tablespoons lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
scant 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
Table salt and ground black pepper
12 oz. Yves Meatless Ground Round (or a can of black beans, drained)
1 can black beans (low sodium is better), drained
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 hearts romaine lettuce, shredded
1 tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped
2 cups corn tortilla chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
Optional add-ins: diced avocados, shredded pepper Jack or cheddar cheese, or minced red onion.

Combine lime juice, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and 1/3 cup olive oil  in a lidded jar and shake to mix. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining teaspoon oil in large skillet over medium heat until warm. Add remaining garlic, cumin, chili powder and cayenne, if using, and heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the Yves Meatless Ground Round and black beans and cook, breaking up clumps with wooden spoon, until heated through. Stir in tomato paste and water and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and cover to keep warm.

Toss lettuce, tomatoes, and chips (and any other add-ins – I always included shredded, sharp cheddar) with lime juice dressing in large bowl. Add enough dressing to coat, but not soak (I usually don’t use all the dressing). Divide salad among individual plates and top each portion with some bean mixture. Serve topped with sour cream if desired.


Me:  A (It think the tangy lime dressing and tortilla chips make the salad.)

Scott:  A++

Luca:  A++ (This is one of his favorite dishes.)

Alia:  B (She happily ate everything but the Romaine.)


7 responses

  1. This looks great & I will try as written! Taco salads are one of my favorite things to eat! You may have me trying out Yves! It’s not sold at my grocer but another one nearby. I’d like to try the lime dressing you mentioned. Pat likes salsa on his taco salads. My family has always mixed in a bit of mayo on the lettuce for our tacos & taco salad too. Can’t wait to give this a go!

  2. This reminds me of my sister’s chilaquiles recipe … Similar ingredients, but layered in a baking pan like a lasagna, and with cheese to top it. Yum…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s