One of my favorite dishes growing up was my mom's taco salad.
And, being a woman of Swedish decent from upstate New York, you know her recipe was muy auténtico. Ground beef became delicioso taco meat thanks to the chemists at Old El Paso and their rust colored taco seasoning packet. Iceberg lettuce, kidney beans, tomatoes, and onion were tossed together with almost an entire bottle of Thousand Island dressing (for a true south of the border taste) then topped with a pound of cheddar cheese and half a bag of crushed taco flavored Doritos. Mmmm...yummy and olé.
Of course I would love this as a kid. In fact, there are several adults I know now who would eagerly devour this concoction. And need a side of defibrillator in between bites.
Challenge: take a delicious taco salad and figure out how to make it healthier.
Replace ground beef with a flavorful combination of mushrooms, walnuts, onions, and garlic. A combination of spinach, arugula, and Romaine replaces the bland iceberg lettuce now dressed with a fresh pico de gallo. And, top off with shredded carrots instead of cheese.
Meatless Taco Salad
16 oz crimini mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 cup onion (about 1/2 an onion), roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1 cup walnuts
2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbl groun cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp chipotle powder
a pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp Kosher salt
6 cups greens (Romaine, spinach, arugula, shredded cabbage if you like)
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
2 avocados, sliced
4 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 carrots, grated
For the pico de gallo
4 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup red onion, roughly chopped
1 jalapeño, diced (ribs and seeds removed)
3 Tbl cilantro
1 lime, zest and juice
splash of red wine vinegar
pinch of salt
In a food processor, combine mushrooms, walnuts, onion, and garlic and pulse until mixture is a chunky paste. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add mushroom mixture. Season with cumin, coriander, chipotle powder, and salt, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside and cool slightly.
To prepare the pico de gallo, combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. This should be slightly chunky.
In a large bowl, toss greens, black beans, and 2/3 of the carrots with enough pico de gallo to coat. Divide evenly on four plates. Top greens with mushroom mixture, halved tomatoes, avocado slices, and remaining carrots. Add more pico de gallo if you wish!