Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Veggie Lover's Taco Salad

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.


Leah said...

Ooooh, I'll be your first comment, especially since TACO SALAD is one of my most FAVORITE THINGS TO EAT EVER!!! This looks amazing! Now I'm totally dying for something Mexican....and it's 11:15pm....that's a problem. I'll have to wait for lunch tomorrow. Yours looks soooo good though! ;-)

noble pig said...

It's hard to make a healthy Taco Salad sometimes with all the chips and stuff we add but this looks amazing and tasty!

Grace said...

veggie lover? yes.
lover of all things taco-related? yes.
very nice.
also, i'm totally like you--mix it up! variety is the spice of life and all that! :)

Patsyk said...

That salad looks amazing! We tend to do a turkey and fat-free refried bean mixture when we do taco salad... haven't made it in awhile, so it may have to make an appearence soon!

Deborah said...

I just made taco salad when we went camping, but just a boring version with ground beef. I love the addition of so many veggies!

Jeena said...

My huby and me would wolf this down so fast. It is so healthy and so tasty and it looks amazing.

Kevin said...

That taco salad looks nice and bright and colourful and good! I like all of the vegetables in it.

Parker said...

I love this salad - good call on the cumin. I made one a few weeks ago, but my photos were not nearly as nice as yours, hence the no post. I like to top mine with a bit of salsa and sour cream.

White On Rice Couple said...

I would take this over any meat taco salad any day! I'll try this out on my friends and see if they even miss the meat! thanks!

Jeff said...

That is a beautiful looking taco salad. One of my favorite I have a ton of stuff and need to get rid of it dishes.

Neen said...

Yum! Looks so nice and simple, perfect for one of those summer evenings when you don't want to cook anything complicated.

giz said...

It's interesting how all of our childhood memories of food vary region by region. This type of dish was never something that reached the table in our family but I do love it and I suspect I'll be changing repetoires around here. Nice healthy option.

Elle said...

This looks fabulous! We used to have taco salad all the time, too, and yes--my mom always made chili. But this is a great alternative!

Lore said...

Oh my, I'm sure this tasted really really reallly good!

Brentwood Kitchen Shopper said...

I hope mine will look as appetizing as yours did.

crunchLin said...

yummmm.! can i just say.
this is divine.
i love taco anything.
especially taco salads.

this veggie lover salad just sent me to heaven. thanks for that.

Sandy said...

Yum, we love taco salad. Last night we had delish fish tacos too, with fresh cilantro.
Great photos!

Matin said...

Looks like a great hearty salad, i especially like the raddishes with their peppery flavour:-)

Elle said...

Just checking in to say "hey." hoping everything is ok with you. :)

Brentwood Kitchen Shopper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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giz said...

I'm with you on this version - the chili, although really delicious adds alot of fat to the mix. This is so much cleaner and totally inviting.

Rumela said...

Wow!! taco salad, this sounds good. I would also like to try the vegan recipe - without the bacon. I am sure it will still taste great. thank you for shearing your post.

Sarah said...

Got RAVE reviews at my Halloween party. 2 cans of beans were plenty, and I used canned Mexican style tomatoes instead of chopped fresh ones. Yum!

Gabby said...

We love taco salad!.. I used refried bean in place of chili and saved the French dressing to top the lettuce; served with crushed Fritos corn chips, avacado, green onions, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese and put it in taco bowls I made! :)

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