Friday, May 29, 2009

Summertime! Taco Salad Supper

When it's hot and humid, as it so often is here in Virginia, it's hard to think about hot food, or even heating up the whole kitchen by turning on the oven, or boiling up things on the stove. I love a salad for dinner on days like that. My family, not so much. Since it's me and a bunch of boys, if I make a salad for supper, it's got to be one that qualifies as "real food". They wouldn't call baby greens topped with goat cheese and walnuts "real food", they would call it lunch!

Several years ago, I went to a covered dish luncheon and had a super taco salad made by one of our group members. The recipe is quick and easy, can be made mostly ahead of time and is family friendly in every way. It also "holds" well at room temperature, if you are having one of those days when everyone eats when they can, in between ball games, social events and running around playing taxi service. I first made this exactly as she wrote it, but have since "lightened" it up quite a bit, so I could make it and eat it without feeling guilty. I also added more seasoning to the meat, to suit our palates. You could make it bolder or simpler, to suit your family and their tastes.

Let me say that teenagers love this salad! I have made it many times for my sons and their friends and the bowl is always cleaned out. I mix everything together except the taco chips, and leave it out on the counter (in the a.c.) and let them help themselves. It's always a hit!

Taco Salad
1 lb. lean ground beef (93% lean)

1 T. chili powder

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/2 tsp. cumin

Brown above ingredients, crumbling hamburger.

1 c. shredded 2% (lowfat) cheddar cheese ( I like Cracker Barrel)

1 head iceberg lettuce torn into pieces or 1 bag romaine hearts (your preference)

2 tomatoes, diced, or 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

4 green onions, white and green parts, sliced thinly

about 20 black olives, cut in half

1/2 bag baked Nacho Cheese Doritos, crushed


1/4 c. light mayo

1/4 c. light sour cream

1/2 c. taco sauce or salsa (your favorite kind)

1/4 c. catsup
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Salsa will make a chunkier dressing, taco sauce a smoother one. Don't leave out the catsup, though, it makes a difference.

After browning meat and seasonings, drain off any grease and cool to room temperature. Mix lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, onions and olives in a large bowl (the "top" of a tupperware cake server is just the right size and you can use it to take along for a picnic or covered dish supper). Add meat to lettuce mixture. Add the dressing and crushed taco chips right before serving.

If you need to "hold" this salad, simply prepare all the ingredients and keep them separate to fix when you need to eat it. Keep your greens cool, the meat at room temperature for up to an hour or 2, and the dressing on ice. Always add the chips at the very last minute so they stay crunchy.

The baked Doritos can sometimes be hard to find, so when I see them, I buy them and hide them in the pantry for use in this salad. It cuts way down on the fat and calories. The original recipe did not call for light sour cream, and used all mayo. Again, one ingredient can make a big difference in the fat and calorie count, and I actually prefer the taste the way I do it.

Makes 6 main dish sized portions, or 10 side salads.

No comments: