We had a tropical storm here this week, the first tropical event of the season—actually, the first one we’ve had in Orlando for a few years. It’s funny how people who are new to Florida panic at the idea of hurricanes, while those of us who have been here a while hope openly for a small hurricane so we can have a few days off of work and school. It seems a little thoughtless—and to some extent it probably is; even tropical storms can cause damage and loss—but also, once you’ve been in Orlando a few years, you know that hurricanes don’t actually come every year, and that this city, about an hour from the coast, is cushioned from the worst of storms.
Tropical Storm Colin didn’t give me a whole day, but I got one hour off of work! We closed early on Monday so that everyone could get home before the first of the driving rains. It was fun to get to leave early (even more fun to get the official email, and listen to the office start to buzz up and down the hallways).
That has nothing to do with this recipe, except that I made it that same night. I’ve realized that a really good salad has a lot of elements. Lettuce + dressing = sad. So this one has a base of lettuce, chips, and beef, but seven suggested toppings. It does mean that a few extra minutes are spent prepping, but it’s worth it: you get a well-rounded salad with lots of contrasting textures and good flavors.
Savory Taco Salad
Let’s talk about what makes this a Great Salad:
- Fresh green lettuce and cucumbers
- Juicy tart tomatoes
- Smoky roasted corn
- Creamy avocado
- Savory beans
- Killer taco meat
- Crunchy tortilla chips
Roasting the corn on the stove takes 5 minutes in a dry skillet, but lends a gorgeous twist of roasty, smoky flavor. No oil required!
The real star of this dish is the simple taco seasoning. It’s a quick homemade blend: just measure and stir. The recipe makes roughly 1/3 of a cup, which is enough for anywhere from 1-3 meals, depending on how lavishly seasoned you like your tex-mex. I always double it (per the photo), which fills a standard spice container perfectly. Easy meals for weeks!
You can, of course, use pre-made taco seasoning if that’s what you have on hand (no judgment here). I used beef in this recipe because I feel that it best holds the flavor, but you could sub in any ground meat, or leave it off for a vegetarian twist. In that case, double the beans and avocado for protein and healthy fats.
This recipe is adapted from Shared Appetite.
Easy homemade taco seasoning, which makes a fantastic taco salad! This salad has a great combination of both textures and flavors.
1 ½ tablespoons ancho chile powder
1 ½ tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 pound ground beef
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese
1 cucumber, sliced and quartered
1 cup grape tomatoes (optional: halved)
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 cup corn (fresh or thawed, dried off as much as possible)
1/2 can black beans, rinsed
2 cups tortilla chips
Optional toppings: Light sour cream, salsa
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. When it's hot, add the corn. Cook, tossing frequently, for about five minutes. Set aside.
Cook ground beef with taco seasoning over medium heat, adding a little olive oil if you need it (you probably won’t), crumbling as it cooks. When it’s done, drain and let cool.
In a large serving bowl, combine lettuce, ground beef, chips, black beans, cucumber, tomatoes, corn, avocado, and Mexican cheese. Toss gently to combine, breaking up the chips a bit.
Serve immediately before the chips get soggy. Optional but excellent: top with sour cream and salsa.