I would like to introduce you to my taco salad.
I brought this to the community potluck Alex and I went to last Sunday evening, and I must ask – is it bad if you eat nearly all of your own dish at a potluck? It’s not like we didn’t eat anything else, I tried a fantastic curry and some delicious Teriyaki chicken, but I do think that Alex and I could have taken the bowl to our own little section of the table and had a romantic dinner for two with no problem.
So what’s in it? Everything in the vegetable family that was hiding in the fridge as well as canned corn and black beans went into the salsa part. For the salad part, I used chopped Romaine lettuce mixed with early Spring greens, and for the meat part (which you can’t see in the picture) I used some ground beef, black beans, garlic and cocoa. Yum.
The Salsa Part
1-2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, diced finely
1/2 orange, red or yellow pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 can of corn
1/2 can black beans- rinsed very, very well
2 Tblsp lemon, or lime juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
some black pepper
fresh cilantro, chopped
All of these ingredients get mixed together in a bowl on their own and are left to marinade while the rest of the salad is being rustled up. It would be even better made a day in advance. Fresh Cilantro is absolutely marvelous in salsa of any sort, but I use it all I can in other dishes as well- it has such a brisk, fresh flavor and is so good for you!
The Meat Part
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced finely
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
salt & pepper
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 can black beans
Lay a little olive oil down in a frying pan and fry up the garlic and onion. After that is pretty well cooked, add the ground beef with a little water if it starts to stick. Once the beef is nearly cooked, add the beans, your salt and pepper and the cocoa, stir well and let it all cook together for several minutes. I partially grew up in an apartment complex where most of my neighbors were from Mexico and Puerto Rico. When my family moved there, I had never really had Mexican food before, but I got the chance to eat some truly authentic Mexican cuisine handmade by the little Spanish grandmas who lived across the way from us. Come to find out, they don’t use Ortega seasoning packets in their cooking- at all – nor do they use a lot of bright red taco sauces or bottled salsas. They told my mom that real tacos- authentic style – don’t use ground beef overcome with taco seasoning. They use tender, shredded beef seasoned with nothing more than fresh garlic and salt. Sometimes, cocoa is added to chilis and such, and vegetables or herbs might be added to bring in different flavors, but Mexican chefs don’t use taco seasoning. I’ve never really been tempted to buy it since.
I find the cocoa seasoned beef brings a nice depth to the brightness of the fresh veggies and salad, it’s good and dark and contrary to some people’s immediate conclusion- it does *not* taste like milk chocolate covered beef. Yuck.
The salad part (which we talked about before) is placed in a bowl, followed by the salsa part. The salsa has now made itself a nice little light sauce that will trickle down onto the salad and be a dressing. I brought the meat separately so that people could opt out of it if they so chose. If you desire, shredded cheese on the top would be perfect, maybe a dollop of sour cream. Delish!
It’s striking, altogether rather healthy and tastes wonderful. You might just eat the whole bowl yourself.