Allana's Taco Salad
For work, one of my daily tasks entails browsing through hundreds of photos of ….. tacos. Yes, tacos. Cheesy, meaty, juicy goodness spilling out the sides of crunchy taco shells. So, it’s safe to say I pretty much think, breathe and dream about tacos all the time. It’s not as bad as you think.
The funny thing about tacos is they’re actually really versatile. You could potentially have all the ingredients for them in your fridge and pantry right now. One night a few weeks ago after a particularly grueling workday filled with very tasty looking tacos, I came home hungry for my own version - a Gourmet Garden spiked taco salad.
Since I was missing one of the main ingredients of tacos -- the shell, I decided to improvise. First, I started by browning some beef in a skillet. I added one whole tube of Gourmet Garden taco seasoning, which is a refreshing and authentic blend of cumin, cilantro, garlic and chili pepper. Don’t skimp on this stuff - it adds an unbelieveable amount of flavor to ground beef, perfect for my homemade taco salad. If you wanted to avoid red meat, you could always substitute ground turkey or even chopped chicken, really any protein will work in this dish.
The other beauty of this salad is you can pretty much add whatever you’d like: beans, tomatoes, roasted corn, avocado, lettuce, sour cream, cheese, cilantro, so on and so forth. The salads are absolutely customizable but what I loved with mine was how flavorful my base was (herbed beef) that I didn’t feel the need to toss in too many other ingredients. For assembly, I began in layers. First, the chopped lettuce. Then, the Gourmet Garden beef. Next, I added chopped tomatoes, grilled corn, sliced avocado, a few handfuls of pepperjack cheese, some scallions, a bunch of cilantro and of course, finished it with a handful of crushed tortilla chips. I dressed it with a salsa & ranch dressing, though I bet any Southwestern sauce would work. Frankly, this salad is so filling and full of rich flavors, it barely needs a dressing. Even a few slugs of herbed olive oil would do the trick.
For my specific recipe, I followed The Pioneer Woman’s “Chicken Taco Salad” obviously subbing the chicken and seasoning for ground beef and one tube of Gourmet Garden Taco Seasoning. I will note that I found the ground beef cooked up much quicker than I anticipated, so be sure to have all the other ingredients prepped and ready to go. So, whether you end up serving this salad on a plate by itself or stuffed inside a crunchy shell, I certainly hope it satisfies that noon, 2 p.m. or even all-day craving of a delicious taco.
Taco Salad, adapted from The Pioneer Woman Chicken Taco Salad
- 3/4 cups ranch dressing
- 1/4 cup salsa (I used mild)
- 3 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 tube Gourmet Garden Taco Seasoning
- 1 head Green leaf lettuce, shredded thin
- 3 whole Roma tomatoes, diced
- ½ cup grated pepperjack cheese
- 2 ears corn (roasted, grilled) shucked
- 2 whole avocados, diced
- 3 whole green onions, sliced
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- tortilla chips of your choice, crushed slightly
Start by preparing the beef. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the beef until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Once the beef is crumbled , cooked and no longer pink, add the tube of Gourmet Garden taco seasoning and stir to combine. Continue to stir the beef mixture until crumbled and cooked and then turn off the heat.Remove and set aside to cool.
Place the ears of corn in the skillet you used to cook the chicken and roll it around so that the flavorful oil/butter mixture coats the corn. Grill it on a grill pan or cook it in a separate skillet until the corn is still crisp but has color on the outside. Slice off the kernels with a sharp knife and set aside.
To assemble the salad, pile shredded lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, cheese, corn, avocado, green onion, cilantro, and crushed chips on a big platter. Drizzle the dressing all over the top, serving part on the side if you'd like. Serve it in individual bowls.