Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kalyn's Perfect Recipe for Taco Salad

Taco Salad
This way of making taco salad seems perfect to me!

(Next up for our Month of Daily Phase One recipes is my favorite way of making taco salad, first posted in 2008.  This salad is something I always make for myself when I'm doing Phase One, and little containers of this taco meat and black bean mixture are something I always have in my freezer.  You'll need to use lean ground beef and low-fat cheese to make this diet friendly.  I also make my own Ranch Dressing with light mayo, which allows me to eat this more often!)
Do you love trying new foods, or do you have old favorites that you eat over and over again? If your answer was "Both," maybe you're suited for the life of a food blogger! If you're writing a food blog about recipes, you need to keep coming up with something new to try frequently (for the blog, that's what we tell ourselves.) On the other hand, even the most adventurous food blogging cook probably has things they make regularly.

Taco salad is one of my standby lunches and something I could probably eat every day for a long time before I'd ever get tired of it. Of course everyone who likes taco salads has their own taco salad preferences, and I'm pretty emphatic about mine. Chips aren't even something I think of any more when someone says taco salad, but don't try taking away my ranch dressing! I also like to use a seasoned mixture of lean ground beef and black beans, simmered together with some cumin, chile powder, and ground chipotle chile powder. I make a double batch of this mixture and keep it in the freezer, so I can get that taco salad fix whenever I need it.

Dump canned black beans into a colander and rinse well with cold water (until no more foam appears.) If you have time to cook your own black beans, even better.

Brown the ground beef well, breaking it apart with a metal turner as you cook it. I always use ground beef with less than 10% fat.

When the meat is well browned, add black beans, Spike Seasoning, chile powder, cumin, and chipotle chile powder with two cups water. Let simmer until nearly all the water has evaporated.

I'm partial to romaine lettuce for this salad, but you can use iceberg lettuce if you like it. I use about 3 cups lettuce when I'm making a main dish salad.

Mix the lettuce with about 3 T ranch dressing, or use a dressing of your choice. (It looks like too much dressing at this point, but when other things get added to the salad it will be just right.)

Add the meat/bean mixture and diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes and gently combine, then sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the salad. Just delicious!

Kalyn's Taco Salad
(Makes enough meat/bean mixture for 4-5 salads. I recommend doubling the amount of meat/beans and freezing it so you can have taco salads in your future!)

Ingredients for meat/bean mixture:
1 lb. low fat ground beef (less than 10% fat)
1/2 tsp. Spike Seasoning
1 tsp. olive oil (to saute ground beef, use more or less oil depending on your pan)
1 can black beans (can use kidney beans or small red beans)
1 T chile powder (New Mexico chile powder preferred, this is a very mild ground red chile powder)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. ground Chipotle chile peppers (or use any other type of hot chile powder or chili sauce)
(You can also substitute 2 T Kalyn's Taco Seasoning for the spices used here.)
2 cups water

Ingredients for each salad (this makes a large, whole meal salad):
3 cups romaine lettuce, torn, washed, and spun dry
3 T ranch dressing (I make the dressing from Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix that's combined with buttermilk and light mayo)
3/4 cup meat/bean mixture (or more)
1 cup diced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes (if using large tomatoes, drain them in a colander after chopping)
1/4 cup grated cheese (I use low-fat four cheese Mexican blend)

Dump can of black beans into a colander in the sink, then rinse with cold water until no more foam appears. (This removes some of the undigestible carbohydrates that can make beans hard to digest.) Let drain while you cook meat.

Heat olive oil in large heavy frying pan, then add ground beef, breaking apart with your fingers. Cook beef over medium high heat until well browned, breaking apart with metal turner as it cooks. When beef is browned, add beans, Spike Seasoning, chile powder, cumin, Chipotle chile powder, and water and simmer until nearly all water is evaporated. Let cool slightly before using on salad. (This can be made ahead and frozen. To use after freezing, thaw and then reheat for a couple of minutes in a microwave.)

To assemble salad, put lettuce in large plastic bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing. Add slightly warm beef/bean mixture and diced tomatoes and gently toss. Arrange on serving plate and sprinkle with grated cheese.

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South Beach Diet Suggestions:
All the ingredients here are low on the glycemic index, so this could be eaten for any phase of the diet. However, if you're a South Beach dieter, it's pretty important to use low-fat ground beef, low-fat cheese, and a dressing without too much fat in this salad, because the combined fat in the meat, cheese, and mayonnaise might make this a "once in a while treat" for South Beach. I wouldn't try to reduce the fat by using fat-free salad dressing or mayonnaise, because I don't want the added sugar that fat-free products have, but I do use light mayo in the dressing.

More Taco-ish Salads to Try:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)
Southwest Chicken Salad
Cilantro-Lover's Leftover Chicken Salad
Turkey Taco Salad from City Mama
Quick and Easy Taco Salad from FoodCite
Catalina Taco Salad from Ramblings from a Gypsy Soul
Creamy Cojita Cilantro Dressing for Taco Salad from The Feast Within
Breakfast Taco Salad from Foodaphilia
Healthier Taco Salad from Two Fat Als
Taco Salad from Culinary in the Country
Simple Taco Salad from Greens and Grains

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  1. mmm...yummy. The things that I cook often at home is chicken curry, fried rice, garlic spaghetti, steamed fish. ;)

  2. will try this with vegetarian ground meat! thanks, looks delicious!

  3. I think I first had this salad in the early '80's! And I still love it today!!

  4. I have a huge pot of black beans cooking on the stove right now -- deliberately more than I need for today, so there will be some left for soup and salads just like this one. I did the beans in a slow cooker (18 hours on low), and they came out really well. Now I'm finishing on the stovetop with a bit stronger sofrito at the end.

  5. This looks delicious! I love taco salads and will have to give your version a try!

  6. A good taco salad is a wonderous treat. This looks very, very good.


  7. This is one of our favourite family dinners. And one both our boys learnt to make from an early age.

  8. Great, filling meal and a perfect standby. I tend to always want to try new versions, just as I do for Chinese Chicken Salad!

  9. Wow! This is kismet (and it's been happening to me a quite a few times recently!) I just bought ranch dressing (never bought it before)and I've been stockpiling black beans to make the brownie listed below!

    Thank you for posting this recipe, can't wait to try it!!



  10. You're right kalyn, I definitely have those dishes I keep coming back to - but then I am endlessly thinking of new ones too, maybe that's why I'm a food blogger! Your taco salad looks delicious, I don't think I've ever eaten one!

  11. This was delicious! I saw the recipe this morning so I picked up what I needed while I was at the store. Love it! Love it! Love it! I will definitely be making this more often. Thanks!

  12. taco salad is the perfect one dish meal!

  13. That taco salad looks really good! Tacos salads are one of my favorites though I have never tried it with ranch dressing. I will have to add some the next time I have it.

  14. I will definitely be making this in the very near future and freezing some extra!!

    I often freeze lasagna and baked pastas for school lunches, but this seems lighter/more balanced. Great idea! :)

  15. That looks like the perfect taco salad, and I would have never thought about the ranch dressing but it looks and sounds awesome!

  16. I'm happy to get so much nice feedback on this, since it's one of my long time faves! Love all the variations people are coming up with.

  17. there is always room for improvement, even in staple recipes.

  18. Awesome article with great pictures and instructions!

    It makes me want to go try this out right now.

    Thanks for the post!

  19. Try it with ground turkey, and for the quick version - use a spice packet of taco seasoning with the meat. It's delicious and healthy!

  20. Anonymous, ground turkey would be great. I did used to make it with the taco seasoning packets, but nowdays I like using the individual spices so I can control what goes into it.

  21. Looks very good. I have not made taco salad for lunch but I am sure I would like it!!! It sure does sound yummy and healthy.

  22. Taco salad! I haven't thought about a taco salad in ages. Thank you for the inspiration. :)

  23. I have a salad I call tex mex which is similar with corn chips but it is interesting to see there is a whole genre of this style of salad - seems a great meal in a bowl salad! I like your comment about blogging being about revising favourites and discovering the new! So true!

  24. This looks fabulous! I love taco salad!


  25. My boyfriend is always asking for taco salad. This looks like a good one!

  26. Yum! I have a thing with ketchup on taco salad (don't tell anyone ;-)). But yours looks so good (those cherry tomatoes are speaking to me) that I think I'll have to try and break out of my rut!

  27. This will be delicious for my dad's wife who is currently on Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet. I was having problems figuring out what to make her for our Fourth of July picnic today and this fits perfectly! Thank you so much.

  28. Hey Kalyn, Love the blog and love to read it. I just posted a low calorie recipe for chicken tacos. Come by and take a look when you have a moment and let me know what you think.

    Thanks and keep up the great work.

  29. Hi I just wanted to leave a comment to say that I enjoy your blog. Looking at the number of comments, I see others feel the same way! Congratulations on a very popular site

  30. This is one of our favourite family food

  31. Katlyn,
    How can I tell for which stage is the recipe?

  32. jb, After every recipe where it says "South Beach Suggestions" it tells what phase the recipe is suitable for. I edited this recipe to make it more clear that this can be eaten for all phases, with some caution in using low fat ground beef and cheese. Thanks for letting me know it wasn't that clear.

  33. I made this exactly as you wrote it Kalyn..It was fabulous,I happened to have all the ingredients,even the Hidden Valley dressing mix. It was all a winner! (and to think I almost used the taco mix instead,This is way better)

  34. So glad you liked it. I do sometimes think I should make my own ranch dressing instead of using the mix, but the Hidden Valley mix just tastes like Ranch Dressing should taste to me!

  35. This is on my stove cooking RIGHT NOW and it smells fantastic! I can't wait to put it on a salad later this week (I'm trying to cook ahead when I have the time). Thanks for all of your great recipes! Your website is really, really, REALLY helpful to me right now (I'm in my 7th week on South Beach).

  36. Nicole, when I taught school this was my #1 favorite lunch, and I always made it ahead and them divided the meat into little containers for lunches. Hope you enjoy; glad you're liking the blog!

  37. I make a very similar version of this with ground turkey. And, I confess, with some very hot red pepper flakes. I could eat it every day.

  38. Lydia, this would be great with ground turkey. The Chipotle powder is hot enough for me though!

  39. I love a good Taco Salad. I buy ground turkey that already has the taco seasoning in it. For crunch on top I crumble up a few lower carb/high fiber Beanitos chips. Yum!

    Kalyn I like the idea of adding the dressing to the lettuce, instead of drizzling it over all like I usually do.

  40. Barb, sounds like I need to look for those Beanitos chips!

  41. Taco salad is one of my favorite lunches, too! For dressing, I just mix some (sugar-free) salsa and some sour cream or Greek yogurt; about half and half. Avocado is a nice addition, too, if I have it on hand.

  42. Made the taco salad for lunch yesterday and brought some for lunch today. Simple and delicious as was the tuna salad. I also made the parmesan chicken last night – another winner. Honestly, every single recipe I have tried from Kalyn’s Kitchen has been excellent. I continue to make the cauliflower au gratin once a week as a reward for my son doing SB with me. Love Kalyn’s Kitchen.

  43. Jana, sounds good!

    Gay, thanks so much. So glad you are enjoying the blog.

  44. I've been making my own taco salad for years and love it, but was open to trying Kalyn's version, since her recipes are fabulous. This one did not disappoint!!! Let's just say I won't be making my version again - this was soooooo yummy!!! For south beach friendly, I probably ate WAY too much of it and put way too much sour cream, but it was so worth it!

  45. This was fantastic! We're back on the SB diet, so this was very satisfying. I did mash an avocado, added chopped cilantro and garnished the salad with it. (I backed off the cheese and dressing... So I think it was still legal.)

  46. Kelly, your version sounds great to me; glad you enjoyed it!

  47. Hi Kalyn, I've made this a million times, but for some reason couldn't figure out this time what to do with the Spike Seasoning? I added it to the beef and bean mix, but it doesn't specifically say that- is that correct? Thank you! LOVE this recipe, one of my faves!

  48. Amanda, I must have had a brain freeze when I wrote this. Yes, it gets added to the meat when it simmers. I will edit right now. Glad you have enjoyed it. I eat this for lunch at least once or twice nearly every week!


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