This Easy Taco Salad has been such a welcome change of pace in my kitchen over the past couple weeks. Maybe it will fire up your kitchen too?!
It's quite versatile so feel free to get creative with the toppings, but the Avocado Dressing is non-negotiable! The creamy, delicious green sauce brings it all together and has put this meal on regular rotation for me.
How To Make Taco Salad
I also added some Spicy Ground Beef to this batch, but you can consider that optional.
There was a time when I didn't like the sound of ground beef in a salad, but not anymore! When the beef is warm and fiery it acts as a perfect complement to the cool, crunchy fixings, so I'm a total believer these days.
But again, don't sweat it if you are vegetarian as you can easily omit the beef and still get a good result -- as long as you make the green sauce 🙂
Here's a look at the ingredients for the Avocado Dressing:
10-12 sprigs cilantro (approx. 1/2 cup chopped)
1/2 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup water
Add everything to a blender or food processor and give it a whirl. If it doesn't combine readily then add another splash of water.
Hello green sauce!
Be sure to take a final taste for seasoning. I added another squeeze of lime and another couple sprigs of cilantro to this batch and it was delish.
For the crispy tortilla strips you've got four good options:
- Fried corn tortillas
- Baked corn tortillas
- Tortilla chips
- Crumbled taco shells or tostadas
Lately I'm in the habit of baking the corn tortillas so I used that method, but feel free to improvise.
If you'd like to bake them, start by giving each tortilla a thin layer of oil on both sides. I usually just drizzle on some oil and spread it around with my fingers.
Bake at 350F for 4 minutes per side. I usually flip them after the first 4 minutes.
Here's how this batch looked after about 8-9 minutes total:
These were crispy all the way through, but keep in mind you'll have the best success with this method when using thin tortillas as the thicker ones won't crisp up as readily. More info on baking corn tortillas.
Once cooled I crumbled these up and it was about 2 cups worth of crispy tortilla strips -- perfect!
For the beef I started by cooking 1/2 onion in some oil:
When the onion had softened I added a single pound of ground beef:
Once browned you can drain off any fat that you don't want around, then adding:
2 minced garlic cloves
3 minced chipotles in adobo Working with chipotles in adobo
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can
1 teaspoon chile powder (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano What is Mexican oregano?
1 teaspoon salt
freshly cracked black pepper
splash of water
Note: most store-bought chile powders are loaded with unnecessary ingredients so it's worth taking a look at the label to see what you've got in the pantry. Try to use pure chile powder when available. More info on the chile powders I use.
And yes, this ground beef demands some final taste testing after everything is brought up to temp. I added another pinch of salt and Mexican oregano to this batch.
For more heat you can add another chipotle, and if you'd prefer a milder batch then I recommend starting with only a single chipotle.
For the greens I used a large head of Iceberg lettuce and a large head of Romaine.
After rinsing and chopping you can stick it back in the fridge until you need it.
I definitely think it's worth it to keep all the fixings separate for as long as you can. And if serving a group I would consider letting peeps build their own masterpiece from an impromptu salad bar with all your fixings.
Why? The moment you add the warm beef it will impact all of the ingredients, especially the tortilla strips and lettuce. Keeping the fixings separate for as long as possible ensures you'll get distinct temps and textures and I think it tastes best that way.
The final fixings for this batch were:
- 1 cup crumbled cheese I used Queso Fresco
- 1 can corn (drained and rinsed)
- 2 diced plum tomatoes
- freshly chopped cilantro
And here are some other good options:
- Black or Pinto beans
- Jack, Cheddar, Mozzarella, or Cotija cheese
- Crema or sour cream
- Pickled Onions
- Tomato Jalapeno Salsa
And now, finally, build your masterpiece to your liking.
Be sure to goop on plenty of the green sauce as there will be loads of it!
A crave-worthy meal made from healthy, fresh ingredients. What more can you ask for in these crazy times?
Okay, I hope this one is a keeper for you. Let me know if you have any questions about the green sauce. As you may have noticed I'm a big fan of it and I think you will be too 🙂
Easy Taco Salad
- 1 large head Iceberg lettuce (or 2 smaller ones)
- 1 head Romaine lettuce
- 2-3 cups crispy tortilla strips
- 1 can corn (drained and rinsed)
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 1-2 cups shredded cheese (I used Queso Fresco)
- freshly chopped cilantro
For the Avocado Dressing:
- 2 avocados
- 10-12 sprigs cilantro (approx. 1/2 cup chopped)
- 1/2 garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 2 limes
- 1/2 cup water (plus more if necessary)
For the Spicy Ground Beef:
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 chipotles in adobo
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 1 teaspoon chile powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- freshly cracked black pepper
- splash of water
- For the Avocado Dressing, add the following ingredients to a blender or food processor: the flesh of 2 avocados, 10-12 rinsed cilantro sprigs, 1/2 peeled garlic clove, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup water, juice of 2 limes. Combine well and take a taste, adding more lime and cilantro if you want. If it won't combine readily simply add another splash of water. Cover and keep cool until you need it.
- I baked corn tortillas for this batch, but feel free to use tortilla chips, fried corn tortillas, or crumbled taco shells. To bake corn tortillas, spread a thin layer of oil on each side of the tortillas and bake for 8-9 minutes in a 350F oven. I usually flip them after the first 4 minutes and then take a peek after another 4 minutes. Keep in mind that you'll have the best success with thin tortillas as thicker tortillas won't crisp up as readily. More on baking corn tortillas.
- I used Iceberg and Romaine for this batch, but there is leeway on the lettuce type. Be sure to give the lettuce a good rinse and drain it well, then chopping it up into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Keep cool until you need it.
- For the Spicy Ground Beef, start by cooking 1/2 finely chopped onion in some oil over medium heat. Once softened, add the ground beef and cook until browned. Once browned you can drain off some fat if you want, then adding 2 minced garlic cloves. Give the garlic a quick saute for 30 seconds or so and then add the remaining ingredients: 3 minced chipotles in adobo, 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can, 1 teaspoon chile powder (optional), 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, freshly cracked black pepper, and a splash of water. Combine well and once heated through take a final taste for seasoning. I added another pinch of salt and Mexican oregano to this batch. Set aside and cover.
- Finish prepping any other fixings you'd like to serve up in your salad. I crumbled up some Queso Fresco, drained and rinsed a can of corn, and diced up some plum tomatoes.
- To serve, I prefer adding the fixings on top of a bed of lettuce in a smaller bowl so that you don't have to intermix everything before chowing down. For bigger groups I would consider lining up an impromptu salad bar so people can build their own masterpieces. This helps keep distinct temperatures and textures in the salad and I think it tastes best that way.
- As written this recipe is enough for 4 people. Feel free to double or triple for larger groups.
You can use any leftover beef mixture to make these Spicy Beef Taquitos.
Want to see the latest recipe? It's these Eggs Poached in Chipotle Salsa.