19 October 2013

Weekend Cooking: Sunflower Taco Salad

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If you follow me on Twitter then you know I've had one heck of a busy (and difficult) workweek. I don't know about you, but when the stresses of life begin to loom large, I crave comfort food. And last night, I had the sudden desire to make a dish I haven't made for years: taco salad.

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.

copyright cbl for www.BethFishReads.comSunflower Taco Salad
Serves 4-6

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
copyright cbl for www.BethFishReads.comToppings and garnish
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Sour cream
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Lettuce, shredded or chunked
  • Tortilla chips, triangle shaped
copyright cbl for www.BethFishReads.comFor the meat: Brown the meat in a large skillet over medium high heat. (Add a little oil if your meat is fairly lean.) Just as the meat begins to lose its pinkness, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until the onion softens. Add the beans and green chiles and stir to combine. If the mixture is very dry, add a few tablespoons water or broth. Add the spices and let simmer about 5 minutes to heat the beans and combine the flavors. Turn off the heat and let the meat sit while you prepare the toppings and plates.

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.


jama 10/19/13, 7:02 AM  

Yum! I make a version of this on occasion -- so simple and it also takes me back to my college days. I like the idea of making sunflower points with tortilla chips :).

Hope you have a calmer work week next week.

Tina 10/19/13, 7:14 AM  

We would make this for work luncheons, make it for college get-togethers...you name it. It's a stress free meal (and a fun one too)so...may I have a plate?!

Hope the rest of your month is smooth :-)

(Diane) bookchickdi 10/19/13, 7:55 AM  

My mom makes a great taco salad too; whenever we have family get togethers, we all ask her to bring it.

bermudaonion 10/19/13, 9:08 AM  

Oh, I love that! It looks easy to prepare and the eye appeal is fantastic!

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity 10/19/13, 9:12 AM  

Taco Salad is one of my favorite dishes (I make mine with kidney beans) but for reasons I cannot understand Scott isn't a fan and Elle doesn't "get it" yet. Sometimes I'll make a pot and freeze in little containers to reheat at lunch. I'll have to try it with black beans one day.

Beth S. 10/19/13, 9:20 AM  

That looks both beautiful and delicious. :)

SF 10/19/13, 9:50 AM  

I love how I can just link up to this meme whenever we happen to have a food-related post.

I'm afraid I've never been a taco person... But if I'm being honest, that is one of the most delicious-looking tacos I've seen. The colors are beautiful. :)

JoAnn 10/19/13, 11:04 AM  

Beautiful! I haven't made taco salad in a long time, but now I'm craving it.

Linda 10/19/13, 11:04 AM  

I love tacos and taco salads. Always on my go to list of quick and satisfying meals.

Joy 10/19/13, 1:34 PM  

That's gorgeous! A sunflower taco salad would make any day sunnier.

Joy's Book Blog

Peggy Ann 10/19/13, 3:08 PM  

Such a lovely presentation!

Carole 10/19/13, 3:44 PM  

Yep, this is exactly my kind of cooking. Hope next week is kinder to you.

Heather 10/19/13, 4:04 PM  

I love making a taco salad and just like you, I use what ever I happen to have on hand. Great 'sunflower' presentation.

Meghan 10/19/13, 4:57 PM  

Ooh, I love taco salad, and the idea to make a sunflower out of the chips is so great! Definitely going to try that next time I have guests.

Unknown 10/20/13, 1:00 AM  

I like the presentation, and your recipe combo wounds good too...think I'll be making soon. Thanks.

Cecelia 10/20/13, 9:17 AM  

My mother used to make taco salad once a week like clockwork, and then she taught my brothers how to throw it together, and they took over. I have taco salad now almost every time I visit my adult brothers who are on their own - it's become a family tradition! We make ours just like you, with what's on hand (and the chip ring!).

Laurie C 10/20/13, 12:09 PM  

OK, I think this is tomorrow night's dinner! Going to the store today and will add 1 lb. ground beef to the shopping list!

Anonymous,  10/20/13, 12:38 PM  

Sorry to hear about your busy work week, but glad you came up with this dish..

LOVE your taco salad! A wonderful platter for potlucks. I'm bookmarking this recipe :-)

Peaceful Reader 10/20/13, 2:54 PM  

This looks delicious! I will have to add it to my recipe collection. I hope this week is less crazy for you.

Unknown 10/20/13, 3:51 PM  

That looks great - love the presentation! Now, however, I want nachos - lots and lots of nachos. Mmmmm ...

Anonymous,  10/20/13, 7:46 PM  

These kind of dishes are among my daughter's favorites so I make versions of this quite often - very tasty!

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