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There are a ton of variations on taco salad. Some recipes call for salad dressing and others for tortilla bowls. I've seen recipes mimicking the seven-layer dip that was so popular about fifteen years ago and some that seem more like nachos than a salad.
My version is a take-off on a dish I used to order often at a family-owned Mexican restaurant when I was in college. They called it "Sunflower Taco Salad," for obvious reasons, if you look at the photo. Kids always love this salad because of the fun tortilla chip ring. Hope you enjoy it too.
Some notes: (1) I usually make this with what I have on hand. In this case, the meat was ground lamb. Use ground beef, chunks of chicken breast, or no meat, if that suits your pantry or diet. (2) While it's best to use a sturdy lettuce, like Romaine or Iceberg, all I had was spring mix, so that's what you see in the photos. (3) Feel free to use whatever spice mix you'd like, such as taco seasoning or a Penzey mix (my preference). (4) Use whatever toppings you like. Some recipes call for olives, green onions, tomatoes, and even corn.
Sunflower Taco Salad
For the meat
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (14-oz) can black beans, drained
- 1 (4-oz) can chopped green chiles
- 1 tablespoon chili powder (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sour cream
- Cheddar cheese, grated
- Lettuce, shredded or chunked
- Tortilla chips, triangle shaped
For plating and serving: Place the guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and cheese in small serving dishes to pass at the table. For each serving, place a bed of lettuce on the bottom of a large dinner plate. Top with several spoonfuls of the meat mixture. Tuck the tortilla chips all around the plate with the points facing out (forming the petals of a sunflower). Serve, allowing each diner to add toppings according to individual taste.