Taco Salad

With summer officially beginning in a few days, swimsuit season is finally here.  Not that I wear swimsuits that often, it’s not a pretty sight (it’s not terrible either).  But the point is, it’s time to slim down for a few months, before autumn comes around and I fill up on stews and pies and soups and turkeys and cookies and…can it be autumn yet?

Anyway, when it’s hot, and you’re in a season full of fresh vegetables, the obvious choice is to have a salad. But with so many options, what kind of salad do you have?  The choice is always obvious for me: a taco salad!

I love a taco salad. It’s spicy, it’s flavorful, and when you use salsa as the dressing, it is practically guilt free (in my mind).

It’s also super easy to make, and an easy lunch to assemble if you need to take it to work. I’ve been eating them all week!

I use ground turkey meat, because it’s “healthier,” but you can use whatever meat you want.  You can also totally use packaged taco seasoning, and I won’t judge because it’s delicious.

I sauté some onions, and then added spices like cumin, coriander, chili, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and then let them warm up to really bring out the flavors.

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Add the meat in, brown it, add a little water to let the spices really get into the meat, and you’re halfway done!

For the salad, I chop up some mini-peppers, tomatoes, and radishes.

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Next, add some chopped avocado, black beans, olives, corn (I used canned because I’m lazy), and some pickled jalapeño peppers for a nice kick. Toss all that with some lettuce and a few tablespoons of whatever salsa you love, and crumble a taco shell over it for good measure.

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There you have it, a tasty, satisfying, delicious lunch salad!

To use it during the week, keep all the components in separate containers, and it makes assembling them a breeze, and keeps them from getting all mushy.

TACO SALAD

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 lb ground turkey
1 small onion
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Lettuce
1 tomato, chopped
5 radishes, chopped
1 bell pepper (or a handful of mini peppers), chopped
1 avocado, cut into cubes
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 small can sliced olives
Pickled jalapeños
Salsa of your choice (I prefer green)
Taco shells or tortilla chips

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion to pan, saute for 3-4 minutes until soft.
3. Add cumin, coriander, chili, garlic powder, salt & pepper. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant. (*Add more or less of whatever spices you love/hate!)
4. Add 1/3 cup water, and stir.  Cook until water evaporates, and then season to taste.
5. In a bowl, combine lettuce, tomatoes, radishes, pepper, avocado, black beans, corn, and however many jalapeños you enjoy.  Toss all that together.
6. Put some salad on a plate, and top with 1/2 a cup(ish) of meat mixture.
7. Break a taco shell or some tortilla chips on top of the salad.
8. Top with a few tablespoons of salsa, and garnish with cilantro if you have any.

The Unsung Hero of Thanksgiving

As an eater, Thanksgiving is obviously my favorite holiday. I mean, come on, the whole day revolves around one huge meal that takes hours to make, a task that can be daunting for some, and a challenge for others. It’s filled with gloriously savory and sweet dishes and pies, I really don’t understand why it’s not everyone’s favorite holiday.

These first few weeks of November are when magazines and websites post their best Thanksgiving dishes.  From 456 ways to cook a turkey perfectly, to the most incredible cranberry sauce, to endless recipes to my favorite part of the meal: the stuffing/dressing. But there’s one side dish that gets sidelined, and I think is a vital part of making the whole meal work:  the salad.

Don’t get me wrong, salad is not my favorite part of Thanksgiving, I’m not that boring (no offense if it’s yours, it does make me question your judgement, though). But, a little salad on your plate will give your palate a welcome break from the generally salty, sweet, chewy, deliciousness that is the rest of the Thanksgiving meal.  For example:

My family’s Thanksgiving generally consists of the following:

– A big ol’ turkey
– Cheesy mashed potatoes
– Rum-glazed yams
– Sourdough bread stuffing
– The richest gravy known to man
– Green beans

The majority of it is starchy, soft, chewy, and very rich.  It weighs you down.

A few years ago I incorporated this Kale and Brussels Sprout salad into the mix, and for me, it was a game changer.  I know, I know, kale. Kale is so polarizing. How dare I submit my guests to my hippie kale agenda! #ilovekale.

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But here’s what I learned: this salad is incredibly simple, easy to eat, and provides some much needed crunch and freshness to your meal. With all the yams and potatoes and bread, it’s nice to have something light and tart to balance it out.  When you eat a bite of this salad and your mouth goes “OMG yes! Something I can chew on!” And then, more importantly: “OMG I’M READY FOR MORE STUFFING YAAAAASSSSS!”  (I’m paraphrasing, obviously.)

Plus then you won’t feel as guilty when you have seconds, because you can always say “oh I wasn’t that bad, I had some salad!”

What do you think? Do you have a favorite salad you serve at your Thanksgiving eating table?

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Steak & Tabbouleh Salad to Make You Cheer

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Look at all those fresh colors!

If you’re like me, weekdays are pretty busy (though if yours aren’t, what’s your secret?).  I get up early, walk the dogs, go to work, sit in traffic (yay Los Angeles!), and make it home around 6 or 7pm.  Definitely not in the mood to cook something extravagant.

There are plenty of books, magazines, and Food Network shows that revolve around weeknight cooking, some of which are tasty, some of which are questionable (Naan-chos?  Really, Ray Ray?).  That’s why it’s especially satisfying when you find a recipe that’s easy, and tastier than you’d expect.

The Food Network Kitchen has a recipe for Steak and Tabbouleh Salad that looked relatively healthy and easy, but it was packed with so much refreshing flavor that I wanted to eat three bowls of it.  #Fatty

I actually meant to make it on a Sunday night, but the boyfriend wickedly seduced me into going to have sushi instead (and conveniently forgot his wallet. Sketchy.), which meant the meat actually marinated for 24 hours, which only made it better.

I tossed the arugula in some smoked olive oil (but I suppose regular olive oil will do), just to give it a little kick, and the whole thing put together was like a party in my mouth.

But, I only ate two bowls of it.  Because I have limits.  Sometimes.

IMG_3119 Leftovers were even better because beer and The View were involved.

Steak and Tabbouleh Salad, courtesy of Food Network