Enter taco salad.
I can’t go any further talking about this recipe without mentioning my Auntie Carol, who originally gave this recipe to my mom back when I was a teenager experimenting with my own vegetarianism. My Auntie Carol, who sadly passed away from cancer a few years ago, was one of my original inspirations for all things food and home decorating. She was an amazing cook and always had a great new recipe to try out on my mom and us kids. Always the life of the family party, she had a knack for whipping up delicious food, fun drinks (even for us underage folk) and endless hours of laughs. I miss her dearly and think of her every time I make this dish. It’s also why I make this salad for nearly everyone I know, as it’s sprinkled with lots of love passed down from one of my most beloved family members.
It’s in this spirit of love and passion for flavorful, filling vegetarian meals that I’m passing it on to the rest of my family, friends and readers. This meal is a true staple on my recipe repertoire and one of the simplest and tastiest meals at our house. I prepare it at least once or twice a month, always to enthusiastic reviews from my taco-loving husband who claims he could eat it everyday. Enjoy!
Chunky Taco Salad
1 head Romaine lettuce
¼ c. thinly sliced green onions
1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained
1 can (2.25 oz.) sliced olives, drained
½ c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
*2 c. coarsely crushed tortilla chips
*1 large tomato, cut into wedges
1/3 c. canola oil
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
½ jar (8 oz.) salsa verde (green chile salsa)
Chop lettuce into ¾ inch chunks and place in a large salad bowl. Top with onions, beans, olives and cheese. Sprinkle chips over top; do not mix. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
To prepare ingredients, add all ingredients together in a small container with lid and shake until well combined. *Just before serving, pour dressing over salad mixture and stir well. Peel, pit and slice avocado; distribute over salad along with tomato.
Tortilla Chips – While any tortilla chips will do, I highly recommend Garden of Eatin’s Blue Corn Chips. They lend a totally different and delicious flavor to the salad that regular old Tostitos simply don’t.
Avocado – Totally optional. We only add this when they are in season.
Tomato – Also totally optional. My husband hates raw tomatoes, so I omit 9 times out of 10. I usually cut up some grape tomatoes to top my salad when they are in season.
This salad makes so much that we often eat half for dinner and save the other half for lunch the next day. To avoid soggy lettuce, mix half the salad with dressing in one bowl and reserve the remaining salad and dressing.