This Taco Salad is a quick, easy, and fresh weeknight dinner idea. Try the chickpea topping instead of meat for a Vegan/Vegetarian option. Set up a Taco Bar and everyone can make their own, perfect salad! I use my own homemade Taco Seasoning Mix and Easy Homemade Dressings - try my Ranch dressing or my Avocado Cilantro dressing. Skip the tortillas chips and beans for a low-carb dinner.
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Taco Salad. Yes, I love it. I like almost any salad for dinner - the bigger the better! This is a great dinner for any night really - but I'm especially into it right now, because it requires very little heat to prepare.
We're staying in a really warm place for the next few weeks (with windows that don't open - we're on the 17th floor) until we get back out to our cabin, and cooking just warms the place up to unbearable.
Making filling salads for a weeknight dinner is pretty easy. Plus, chips for dinner? Yes, please.
What I like to use to make Taco Salad
These are some ingredients I like to use:
- Tortilla Chips (any chips are fine, I like the small multigrain ones)
- Lettuce (bagged shredded lettuce makes it easy)
- Tomato - diced
- Black Beans
- Corn - either canned, frozen or sliced right off the cob
- Pickled red onions and pickled jalapenos
- Bell peppers
- Shredded cheese (We like cheddar)
- Meat or Chickpea Taco Mix
- Dressing such as Ranch dressing, my Avocado Cilantro Dressing etc..
- Sour cream or yogurt
How to Make the salad toppings
For the meat topping:
In a large pan, over medium heat, brown the ground beef, and then add the Taco Seasoning and the tomato paste.
Cook that for a minute or so until the spices are cooked and the tomato paste blends in. Add a little bit of water, let the whole thing heat up, and then simmer for a few minutes and then turn the heat off.
At this point, you could also add another cup of cold water mixed with one tablespoon of cornstarch and then simmer for 10 minutes. This will add a thick sauce to use taco meat instead of having flavored beef crumbles.
How to build your salad:
To prepare the salad, layer the bottom of your bowl or plate with lettuce. I love using bagged and prepared lettuce for this because it makes it so easy.
Then add the meat and your choice of filling. We usually have black beans, corn, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, pickled red onions. Add your chips on top – I like to crumble mine a bit because it makes it easier to eat.
Next, add your sauce on top – we like salsa, sour cream, or my Avocado Cilantro Dressing which is linked in this post. Finally, add some shredded cheese on top and it's all ready to go.
My son likes to prepare his a bit different – he mixes the lettuce with Caesar dressing first and then adds his toppings – simply meat, shredded cheese and tortilla chips.
How to Make a Vegan/Vegetarian Taco Salad Filling with Chickpeas
My daughter doesn't eat meat so when we have taco salad I make a chickpea filling for her, using the same method.
First, use a fork to break up the chickpeas. Don't mash them! Just break them up until they are crumbly and have about the same texture as the ground meat when it's cooked.
Add a bit of oil to a frying pan, add the chickpeas and fry them for a few minutes, until they dry out a bit and start getting crispy.
Then add the Taco Seasoning, tomato paste, and a little bit of water. Cook until the water is completely cooked off (or it'll be mushy).
Make your salad as above, substituting the chickpeas mixture for the meat mixture.
To make this completely vegan, skip the cheese or use a store-bought vegan cheese, and leave out the Avocado Cilantro Salad Dressing and use a different dressing – salsa or a vinaigrette would be good.
Taco Salad Meat Topping
- 1 lb ground meat (beef, turkey or chicken)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 1 cup water (plus 1 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch if you want a saucier mixture)
Chickpea Taco Salad Topping
- 1 15.5 oz can chickpeas
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- ¼ cup water
For the Salad
- lettuce, tortilla chips, tomatoes, black beans, bell peppers, cucumbers, corn, pickled red onions, salsa, sour cream (or the salad toppings of your choice)
- Shredded Cheese (for topping)
- Avocado Cilantro Salad Dressing (or other dressing of your choice for vegetarian)
For the Meat Taco Salad Topping
- Heat a frying pan over medium. Add the ground meat and cook until browned.
- Add the tomato paste and spice mix and cook for a minute or so.
- Add the water, heat until bubbling and then turn down to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes or until most of the water cooks off. (Optionally, you can add one cup of water mixed with one tablespoon of cornstarch, stir and simmer a further 10 minutes for a saucier mixture)
- Build your salad by starting with lettuce. Add the taco topping and the other vegetables of your choice. Add Avocado Cilantro Salad Dressing, shredded cheese and tortilla chips. Serve.
For the Chickpea Taco Salad Topping
- Empty chickpeas into abowl. Use a fork and break up the chickpeas. Do not mash them, justbreak them up a bit.
- Heat a frying pan overmedium. Add the chickpeas and cook until crispy.
- Add the tomato paste andspice mix and cook for a minute or so.
- Add the water, heat untilbubbling and then turn down to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes oruntil most of the water cooks off.
- Build your salad bystarting with lettuce. Add the chickpea taco mix and the othervegetables of your choice. Add dressing (vegan dressing if needed),cheese (vegan cheese if needed) and tortilla chips. Serve.
Nutritional information is an estimate. Values vary based on products used.
Originally posted 3-18-19. Updated 7-20-20 to provide clearer information and additional nutritional values.