Sunday, June 19, 2011

Taco Salad

This is a really simple salad. For prep, you're basically browning some hamburger, slicing some veggies and then hand-assembling the salad. Heck, this is so easy that even your dog could throw this together. When prepared as noted below, this recipe will serve four humans or eight medium-sized dogs.

Make sure you use extra-lean ground beef or bison. That keeps the salad nice and lean. If you use regular ground beef, you're adding a lot of fat that serves no purpose other than giving your lettuce a nice, greasy sheen. And while we are cheating by using prepackaged taco seasoning, we're going to make the meat sauce extra rich by adding tomato sauce to the mixture rather than water.

The dressing is awesome and comes from my all-time favorite source, Cook's Illustrated.

Salad Ingredients
1 pound extra lean ground beef or bison
1.25 ounce package of taco seasoning
15 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 bag tortilla chips
16 ounces chopped lettuce
1 tomato, diced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette Ingredients
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2-3 limes)
1 shallot, peeled
1 jalapeno chile, stemmed and seeded
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Make dressing. Process lime, shallot, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt and cumin in a blender or food processor until all ingredients are finely chopped, about 15 seconds. With blender or processor running, then add cilantro and olive oil until the dressing is smooth and emulsified. Set aside.

2. Brown ground beef in a small skillet over medium high heat. When all pink is gone, add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Stir until sauce has thickened and most of the tomato sauce has been absorbed  by the meat. Set aside and let meat mixture cool to room temperature.

3. Spread tortilla chips out on serving plates:

4. Mix half of dressing with shredded lettuce:

5. Begin assembling the salad on each serving plate. Top tortilla chips with lettuce/vinaigrette mixture, diced tomatoes, chopped green onions and chopped cilantro:

6. Top with a large spoonful of ground beef mixture and a generous helping of cheddar cheese. Drizzle with a few drops of remaining dressing and serve.

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Hint: You can avoid chopping lettuce by buying prepackaged shredded lettuce:

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