When I was growing up, there were a bunch of regularly made meals that basically formed the foundation of my childhood dinners. One of those meals was taco salad. My mom loves chili and made it all the time, and the day after chili day was always taco salad day. She’d pile some Tostitos, iceberg, and tomatoes on a plate, always in that order, and top it with some leftover chili, some cheese, and some sour cream. I loved it then, and I still love it now.
My approach, however, is somewhat different from my mom’s. First of all, I can’t eat a dish the same way all the time. That’s boring. Second, I can’t be bothered to make a pot of chili every time I want taco salad. That’s crazy. Third, I’m not even sure how chili got all muddled in with taco salad in the first place. Does everyone use chili for taco salad, or is that just my mom?
Anyway, I like Martha Stewart’s recipe for taco salad. It’s easy, healthy, and delicious. No chili here. Martha calls for lean ground turkey mixed in with lots of veggies: onion, jalapeño, zucchini, and red bell pepper. The zucchini may sound unusual, but it’s really a nice addition. You don’t exactly notice the zucchini itself, but it does lend a nice depth of flavor. I think corn would have been a great addition to the mixture, and though the thought occurred to me too late this time, I’ll definitely be including it in the future. I spooned the turkey mixture over tender Bibb lettuce and topped it with even more veggies, including tomatoes, radishes, scallions, and avocado. I served the salad with multigrain tortilla chips and, of course, sour cream, and had a delicious, filling, and healthy meal.
Veggie Lover’s Taco Salad
Adapted from Turkey Taco Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, mined
1 pound ground turkey
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1 cup shredded white cheddar
Garnishes: sliced radishes, diced tomato, jalapeño slices, avocado, sliced scallions, lime wedges, hot sauce, sour cream
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add turkey; cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add zucchini, bell pepper, chili powder, and cumin; cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Season with salt and ground pepper. Transfer to a plate, and let cool.
Arrange lettuce leaves (torn or shredded, if desired) on dinner plates and top with crushed tortilla chips. Ladle some turkey mixture onto each plate and top with cheese. Add garnishes as desired.