Friday, April 20, 2012

Ultimate Taco Salad

Taco salad; quite possibly THE most expensive item on the Taco Bell menu. Seriously, I think it actually passes the $4.00 mark. Taco salads are considered "Mexican food", though it's a dish most likely just inspired from Mexican cuisine, or an attempt to make an order of loaded nachos seem healthy. 

Typically, a taco salad is made from seasoned taco meat (ground beef), topped with a few shreds of iceberg lettuce, then topped with a myriad of ingredients such as diced tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, and occasionally some refried beans and rice.

No wonder the term "salad" is such a misnomer....


For a vegetarian take on the taco salad; omit the meat. Using black beans in place of the meat helps cut a LOT of the fat and calories, while adding fiber and keeping the protein. 

Feel free to omit any ingredients that you aren't fond of, or add in anything you might like. The beauty of taco salads is that the options are pretty much limitless! In addition, though you can make homemade salsa or taco seasoning for this recipe, if you're in a hurry (or broke), pretty much all of the ingredients can be bought ready-made relatively cheaply.

Ultimate Taco Salad
dressing adapted from The Slow-Roasted Italian

1 cup of cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Zest of 1 lime
2 cups plain yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning (storebought or homemade)
8" tortillas (flour or corn)
2 cups Mexican rice, cooked
1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
Chopped tomatoes (or 1 can mild Rotel, drained WELL)
Corn salsa or canned Mexican-style corn
Shredded lettuce
Diced green chilies
Tomato salsa
Guacamole (I left this out since the BF hates it)
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Lime wedges

Whisk together the cilantro, lime juice, lime zest, yogurt, salt and sugar. The store's cilantro looked really sad, and I forgot that I still had half a bunch in the crisper, so I used some cilantro cooking base that I found in the Hispanic foods aisle.

Brown the ground beef and drain off the excess fat. Season with the taco seasoning.

Place the tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 1 minute in a 425-degree oven. Place atop upturned, oven-safe bowls, pinching/fluting the edges, and bake for 7-8 minutes to create a taco shell.

*You can skip this step and buy premade taco shells, or simply serve the salad atop tortilla or corn chips.*

Place the ground beef & Mexican rice in the taco shell; top with black beans.

Add the corn/corn salsa and tomatoes.

Add the lettuce; top with diced green chilies and the tomato salsa.

Add the shredded cheese. Top with the cilantro-yogurt dressing, then garnish with lime wedges and sour cream if desired.

Dig in!


  1. You did an excellent job with great photos on the taco salad, it looks really yummy and we make them ourselves, being in San Diego where Mexican cuisine is a staple in our diets. One thing I personally do is use the actual Taco Bell taco sauce which is now found everywhere, it has that taste that no one else has. I would use it in addition to the salsa. I make salsas all the time and I like the taste of one that was made the day before. Put a slice of avocado on that thing and that is my lunch.

  2. Thanks, Bobbi!!

    I use the Taco Bell brand seasoning for the meat, and I DO love the Taco Bell sauce as well!