Taco salad is the bomb. It soothes our Mexican food craving without breaking the calorie bank, or the actual bank. We sometimes call the dish a weekly tradition - Taco Salad Tuesday's, ya'll. There are many reasons why I love my taco salad. The first being it's totally up to you on what you decide to top your lettuce mixture with... Yes, there is lettuce underneath all those fixings. Next, it's soooooo easy to throw together. I'm talking twenty minutes or less. Lastly, you can prepare the meat ahead of time for yet another prepping option!
• My ground meat is seasoned with a glorious mixture of spices, commonly known as "taco seasoning." I couldn't find a healthy option without added MSG in the grocery store, so I took to Pinterest a long time ago and stumbled upon a life-changing spice medley that I could make at home. You can mix a single serving portion or bulk to save on your spice rack. This is not my recipe, but I love it so very much. Pro tip? If you decide to make the bulk option, wrap a little jar of the seasoning up with a pretty bow and give as a gift to your foodie barn friends!
• I had to share a quick funny sentiment about the bean component to my taco salad. The first time I ever went over to Barrett's house, I walked into his pantry to throw away a paper towel and the only two items on the shelf were instant refried beans and a banana smoothie packet. Bachelor life. It's been a running joke in our relationship ever since! I've never let him live it down. Meanwhile, I convinced myself I would not try instant refried beans during my lifetime considering the fact that I believed they were gross. Wrong. I decided to muster up the confidence to give them a go... and another mind-blown moment occurred. They're actually delicious, way more appetizing than the canned version, and inexpensive. Moral of the story? Don't knock it 'till you try it.
In total, my taco salad cost me roughly $13.00 and yields 3 to 4 servings. That's about $3.25 per salad!
Here's what you'll need:
Taco seasoning for 1lbs of ground meat - see recipe linked above
1lbs ground beef
Diced tomatoes - I like cherry tomatoes
1) Start your taco salad by mixing up your seasoning blend in a measuring cup or small bowl.
2) Brown your ground meat over medium-high heat.
3) While your meat is cooking, slice up your toppings. I had cherry tomatoes, avocado and lime wedges on hand yesterday, but your options are endless.
4) Once the ground meat is nearly browned, add your seasoning into the pan. You'll want to add a splash or two of water to help thin the seasoning out. Stir to combine and continue cooking for a few minutes longer.
5) This is my favorite brand of beans. The packet cost me $2.50 and it makes 4-5 servings. Budget score. Follow packet cooking instructions once your meat is finishing up. Santa Fe Bean Company does offer a vegetarian option, too!
6) Can't forget about the base of our salad: the lettuce. I like this combination from our grocery store, but choose whatever type you fancy. I discard the dressing packet and just use the greens. When all toppings are ready, go ahead and build your salad!
I don't use salad dressing for my taco salad. I find the squeeze of lime juice combined with everything else - especially salsa - creates a beautiful dressing on its own.
As I mentioned above, you can swap ground turkey for ground meat, or even ground chicken would work nicely. Don't like refried beans? Try black beans instead. Use guacamole instead of avocado slices or even pico de gallo instead of diced tomatoes. Change up your cheese preferences, too. Every tried Queso Fresco? If not, you need to! Get creative with salsa variations. The taco salad world is your oyster.
I hope you all enjoy this taco salad as much as we do. It is delicious!