Monday, November 2, 2009

Taco salad

Last week I shared one of my family’s favorite meals – salmon patties. In keeping with that theme, here is another family favorite meal – taco salad. We probably make this twice a month and just love it every time. Occasionally it will fall out of rotation for a longer period. When we serve it up again, we never fail to wonder why we don’t have it more often. It's just that good.

The thing about taco salad is that there are as many ways to make it as there are people to eat it. We like doing it this way because the girls will eat (part of) it too. Well, they used to. I’ll get back to that.

First things first: seasoning the meat. I used to use store-bought packets because I hadn't a clue how to make my own. I experimented here and there, but never could find a taste that worked. Something was always missing.

Eventually, I found this recipe online but cannot, for the life of me, remember where, so unfortunately I cannot give proper credit. I scribbled it on a scrap of paper and shoved it in my recipe box. It’s good that I’m posting it because if I ever lost it, I’d be oh so disappointed.

I like making my own taco seasoning rather than using a packet because I rotate through my spices faster, keeping them fresh. And let’s not forget that it’s cheaper, all natural and tastes better too!

Taco Seasoning (for 1 lb of meat)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper*
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
*that 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper packs a nice punch of heat, use less if you want it less spicy

Brown 1 lb ground beef (or turkey if you prefer) and drain.

Add about 1/2 cup of water and the taco seasoning to the meat, stir, and heat until most of liquid has evaporated.

Taco Salad (for the adults)
Layer lettuce, taco meat, cucumber (scoop seeds out and chop), corn, avocado, and tortilla chips (I use Frito-Lay Scoops for reasons explained below).

Sprinkle with shredded cheese (we’re dairy free, so we skip this part, but I sure do miss it). Use your favorite salsa in place of traditional salad dressing and ... ENJOY!

For the kids (if they aren’t salad eaters):
Scoop ground beef into the Scoops, sprinkle with cheese and, voila, taco cups! Add avocado and corn on the side and you've got a balanced meal.

For the longest time, both of the short people in this house loved their “little tacos.” The young one still does, but the elder prefers to have the salad and her beloved (dairy free) Ranch dressing.

Note: Frito-Lay tortilla chips are gluten free, which makes this meal entirely gluten free, no modifications needed.

As I said at the start, there are a million ways to enjoy taco salad. What is your favorite way?


  1. Yum! I have ground beef defrosted for tomorrow night so maybe we'll have this! Great idea.

  2. Yum! I might have to surprise my husband with this recipe. He and tacos have a thing going on.

  3. I love the idea of using my own spices for taco seasoning. I'm definitely going to try this.

  4. Not only am I going to try this, I'm going to try this RIGHT NOW. (Happen to have ground beef in the fridge, and wasn't sure what way I wanted to use it, so...) THANKS!

  5. You'll all have to share if you give this a try. It is our much preferred way of seasoning ground beef for tacos and taco-related meals.

    It works well with ground chicken too!

  6. OK. That was awesome. Tasted better than the stupid packets, and didn't have a single ingredient I couldn't pronounce. THANK YOU, goodfountain!