A taco salad can be superior to a taco on many occasions. This recipe was inspired by my inability to eat tacos for a working lunch, owing to the drippy, falling-apart nature of the beast and the sensitive nature of my computer. A few tips for any taco salad: Let the beef cool after cooking to avoid wilting the salad greens; use the opportunity to load up your salad with taco components you’d put on your tacos if only they’d all fit; and don’t add any dressing — the seasoning and natural fat from the beef combined with the green chile, sour cream and lime juice is one of the best salad dressings you’ll ever taste.
This recipe makes two hefty entrée salads, but you can double the beef recipe and save half for tacos the next day (provided you won’t be eating over your keyboard).
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 heaping teaspoon taco seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- 1 small head Iceberg lettuce, shredded
- 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, drained
- 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
- 1 4.5-ounce can chopped green chilies
- 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
- Salsa, sour cream, shredded Mexican blend cheese, lime wedges and chopped cilantro, to garnish
For the ground beef
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and when it's hot, sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant — about 2 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and burning.
Add the ground beef and taco seasoning and sauté, breaking up chunks with a wooden spoon, until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then drain off and discard excess fat and set beef aside to cool slightly.
For the salad
Place a layer of shredded lettuce on a large plate, then place a generous scoop of seasoned ground beef in the center.
Working from the inside out, add a layer each of tortilla chips, cherry tomatoes, pickled jalapeños, black beans and half a tablespoon of scallions.
Add evenly spaced dollops of chopped green chile.
Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, the remaining sliced scallions and a sprinkle of shredded cheese and serve immediately.