Taco Salad, We Love You!
I seem to remember some kind of controversy surrounding taco salads back in the 90’s. I don’t know if it came from TV or health class or some kind of fitness magazine – but suddenly, the “unhealthiness” of taco salads seemed to be something worth talking about.
Oh, those evil taco salads! Masquerading around pretending to be healthy.
Pretty soon nosy-know-it-all’s were crashing entire tables of taco-salad eaters, warning everyone that WHILE it may be a salad, it was FAR from healthy.
And I was just like….
“Oh, you don’t say?” *crunch* *crunch* *crunch*
I mean, if you want to live in a world where all salads are tools of punishment, then go right ahead. But I’ll stay right over here.
*crunch* *crunch* *crunch*
Because they’re damn delicious. Especially with these nests of tiny fried shoestring tortillas, sharp cheddar cheese, lots of avocado, and super-easy-to-whip-up seasoned ground beef.
Summer is the perfect time to just chop up a bunch of great ingredients, throw it all on lettuce and call it a meal.
One head of iceburg lettuce is perfect for two gargantuan salads. I like to shred it thinly. I added a couple handfuls of shredded spinach too, just because I had it on hand and I thought the picture would be pretty.
Turns out it adds a touch more flavor, too.
I put together an easy blend of seasonings for the ground beef. I haven’t used packages of “taco seasoning” in about 20 years. You could use the packs of taco seasoning if you want, but I’m in the habit of making my own seasonings. I used garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and chili powder. One teaspoon each for a pound of ground beef. Easy to remember.
It takes a fair amount of dedication coupled with a thrusting/stabbing motion with a wooden spoon, but you’ll soon get all the bits of ground beef broken up and the spices will be evenly-distributed. It’s actually kind of therapeutic.
“Stabbing therapy”: Highly effective in the cooking world.
Drain on paper towels when sufficiently stabbed and browned.
Grate a little cheese…
I like Tillamook Extra Sharp Cheddar. I’m originally from Oregon so I’m obligated to always use Tillamook. The Tillamook Cheese Factory in Tillamook, Oregon hosts thousands of school children every year for field trips. If you’re a kid in Oregon, going to the Tillamook Cheese Factory is a rite of passage. Not only is it fun and educational, but it makes lifelong customers out of us. I’m in Okinawa, Japan and when I saw that the commissary on the Marine Corps base carries Tillamook cheese, I actually jumped up and down….cried a little….took a picture of it and put it on Instagram. Then the Tillamook people actually responded to my post (like chit-chatted with me!) and I felt like a 1960’s girl at a Beatles concert. *scream*
It was a highlight for me, okay?
Okay now, pay attention because this is how you make the SUMMIT of the taco salads. I mean, I’m going nuts over this…
Take a couple corn tortillas and slice them into tiny matchsticks. Also therapeutic. You can get as meticulous as you want, here.
Throw them in a pan with a couple teaspoons of olive oil and brown over medium-high heat. While they were browning I sprinkled a little salt, a little garlic powder and a little chili powder. Just a little sprinkle.
They turn into tiny, curly Doritoes! So exciting! I can’t stand it!
I made a dressing out of sour cream and taco sauce. One tablespoon sour cream to one teaspoon taco sauce. Scale up or down accordingly.
Influences of Japanese food-styling are starting to find their way into my kitchen, permanently. One of which is the home-mixed compound sauce that is then bagged and drizzled, artfully. It really doesn’t take much time to put it all together, and it really is an efficient way to distribute sauce. I cut the tip off of a sandwich bag and pipe it out like icing.
Can’t forget the avocado. I’m entirely avocado-dependent.
Here are the “layering schematics”, just in case you need a checklist. Start with #1, proceed to #8.
- sprinkle of salt and pepper
- top with nests of fried tortillas
- drizzle the sauce
It’s a masterpiece!
The little tortilla nest on the top is just the BEST. Salad perfection.
The best salad ever, no matter what anyone says. Back from her public-relations nightmare and permanently on rotation at my house during the summer.
Taco Salad, We Love You.
*crunch* *crunch* *crunch*