Aside from being a happily addictive way to enjoy a huge bowl of vegetables, this taco salad is the ideal antidote to an overindulgent taco night. Even though we’ve gone lighter and healthier on taco filling by doing away with the seasoning packet and using ground turkey, it’s still easy to go overboard with rich toppings such as cheese, sour cream and guacamole. The next day I’m always excited for a great big bowl of greens, piled with more veggies and tossed with warm taco meat.
Sharply dressed greens and savory taco meat are the stars here, but this party bowl welcomes a lively mix. Depending on what’s in your kitchen, you could add sweet peppers, black beans, corn, onions, cilantro or black olives. I’ve tossed in leftover roasted vegetables too.
Many taco salad recipes call for a heavy dressing. But I like the straightforward flavors of extra-virgin olive oil and a good balsamic vinegar as a simple contrast to the warm spicy meat. Fresh lemon juice is also great when I have it.
Start with our big bowl of salad greens. This is a spring greens mix, with baby lettuces, spinach and arugula.
Thinly sliced cucumber and freshly grated carrot for color and sweetness.
More color with juicy halved grape tomatoes.
Diced avocado for healthful bites of richness.
Season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Toss gently, adjusting seasonings to taste. You know it’s well dressed when you just want to keep eating.
Add the warm taco meat last, as it will slightly wilt your greens.
Taco night is fun, but taco salad I could live on contentedly for days.
When it’s taco night, I make sure to have a generous amount of taco meat leftover just so I can have this easy and satisfying salad for days after. This would also make a great taco night option for any low-carb eaters.
- Fresh salad greens, washed and dried
- Carrot, grated
- Cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
- Grape tomatoes, halved
- Avocado, sliced
- Taco meat
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar (Monari Federzoni is good and widely available)
- Place greens in a large mixing bowl and layer other ingredients on top.
- Season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over and toss gently. Taste a leaf – greens should have a slight sheen from the olive oil, and you should be able to taste the oil, salt and pepper. Adjust as needed. Finally, drizzle a small amount of vinegar and toss again gently. Taste and adjust again. When it’s right you’ll just want to keep eating.
- Feel free to add what you like or have on hand: sweet peppers, black beans, corn, onions, cilantro or black olives. Cooked vegetables, such as roasted asparagus or sauteed zucchini, are also good adds.
- If you don’t have avocado, grated cheese, such as a sharp cheddar, would make an excellent substitute. Or you could serve your salad with a dollop of guacamole or sour cream.
- For the dressing, feel free to substitute fresh lemon juice or wine/champagne vinegar instead of balsamic. You could also use my favorite balsamic vinaigrette if you have some in your fridge already.
Here’s the link to a printable version.
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