Taco Salad

Taco Salad: Your Post-Cinco de Mayo Cleanup Recipe!

Taco Salad

I admit, I ate a couple bites before I remembered to take a photo. It’s that good!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Today, people of Mexican descent celebrate the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla back in 1862. And the rest of us? Well, we use it as an excuse to consume tacos and margaritas. But what about after Cinco de Mayo, when your fridge is stocked with the spoils of your taco fest? That’s where my taco salad recipe comes in.

This year, to make meal planning easier, I’ve instituted a Taco Tuesday every week. We’ve happily eaten crispy chicken tacos, shrimp tacos, pulled pork tacos, etc. However, I realized that when I made the “traditional” Americanized ground beef and refried bean tacos, I had a lot of leftovers that would languish in the refrigerator. One pound of spiced ground beef + three to four cups of homemade refried beans – six small tacos between the three of us = a lot of waste.

Enter the taco salad! While of course we could just make tacos again, a properly made taco salad is a delight, and an excellent way to put a new spin on leftovers. The key is in getting all of the different temperatures and textures just right: cool crispy lettuce, warm meat and beans, tangy dressing, creamy avocado, crunchy tortilla strips, spicy salsa–yum, I’m drooling right now! Plus, it’s super easy.

Now your taco salad could look very different than mine–it just depends on what you have on hand. What really brings this together, in my opinion, is the dressing and the crispy tortilla strips. Here goes!

Post-Cinco de Mayo Taco Salad
Serves: However Many You Can Feed

For the salad:
Lettuce
Taco meat
Refried beans
Shredded cheese
Salsa
Avocado
Chopped red onions
Cilantro
Dressing (recipe below)
Tortilla strips (how-to below, or use tortilla chips)

On a plate or shallow bowl, layer your lettuce and sprinkle with part of the onion and cilantro. Drizzle with a little dressing. Warm your beans and meat (I tend to just do this in the microwave) and layer some over the lettuce. Add cheese, salsa, avocado, more onions and cilantro, and more dressing. Top with tortilla strips or chips and eat immediately!

For the dressing (multiply as needed):
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons plain, full-fat Greek yogurt (or sour cream, or regular yogurt)
1-2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar, to taste (or lime juice)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk the mayo and yogurt together, then add red wine vinegar to taste. Whisk in the cumin and cayenne, and add salt and pepper to taste.

For the tortilla strips (multiply as needed):
Vegetable oil
Corn tortillas (1/2 to 1 per salad), cut into 1/2″ strips

In a small frying pan, add about 1/8″ of oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the tortilla strips in one layer (do multiple batches if you have a lot, don’t crowd them). Fry for a minute or two per side, stirring with a metal slotted spoon. Remove to a plate to drain, then use while still warm.

Other excellent additions to your taco salad:

  • Seasoned rice
  • Corn or other sauteed vegetables
  • Olives
  • Green chiles
  • Swap out the meat and beans for grilled shrimp

As you can see, this is a super-easy, super-flexible recipe that you can make your own, and enjoy a fresh, new bonus meal while using up those leftovers–before they end up down your garbage disposal.

Are you a taco salad aficionado? Do you have other clever ways to gussy up your leftovers? Share them below!

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Happy Monday! Links to Make Your Day Brighter

RevivalHello, everyone! How were your weekends? I hope you had the same gorgeous weather we’ve been having here in the Pacific Northwest!

We scooted out of town (skipping Free Comic Book Day, which was really weird for me) to the Oregon coast with my folks. My plans were set: get a bunch of writing done, since my parents would be enjoying extra time with their granddaughter and Scott and Sid would be hitting the bike trails.

The reality? Scott came down with a cold, which was bad. But then my poor Mom woke up Saturday morning with what I had (and she nursed me through) last week–much, much worse. She didn’t leave her room in our gorgeous rental house in Manzanita and we all felt very bad for her.

However, my Dad and I did go on a bike ride with Sid (and Scott did a couple times as well), and I’ve got to say–I forgot how fun it was! And it was incredible for us to see Sid riding like he’s been doing it for years (it’s been just two weeks). My Dad got lots of Sarah time in the early morning, since she’s decided to start sleeping through the night–yay!–but wake up at 5 am or so–nooo!

Scotty was sweet enough to get up with her this morning so he could catch Mad Men before work, and I got to sleep in until the lovely hour of . . . 7:30 am. It really did feel luxurious. Having a baby changes frickin’ everything, amirite?!?

But enough about me: here are some links to entertain you this Monday morning:

Did you miss out on Free Comic Book Day? Not to worry: Things From Another World is extending FCBD through Friday! Not only will you save 20-50% on almost everything online, but you’ll get two special FCBD comics, free, with any in-stock purchase made by May 8 (while supplies last). Pro tip: since TFAW is the sister company of Dark Horse Comics, there’s a better-than-average chance that you’ll get the exclusive Fight Club 2 prequel!

Unsure of what to purchase? I have some suggestions:

  • Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton is a fantastic choice if you’re a fan of small-town horror, The Walking Dead, and strong female characters. One day in a tiny Wisconsin town, the dead come back to life–not as zombies per se, but it’s still unsettling. As the outside world desperately tries to get in–is it the rapture?–Officer Dana Cypress must deal with getting to the bottom of the mystery, while the secrets and shadows of her small town threaten to boil over. The characters and storylines are tight, and Norton’s gorgeous, gory art makes this a must-read.
  • Abe Sapien by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, Sebastian and Max Fiumara, and Dave Stewart. Full disclosure: I am married to Scott Allie (and, um, friends with Tim and Mike above), but I can stand behind this book without bias! If you’ve seen the Hellboy movies, you know something about the character of Abe Sapien, fish man. But he is so much more. In this series, he’s on the run from his former cohorts from the B.P.R.D., wandering an America that has been destroyed by monsters while trying to determine–is he one of them? And what will he become? It reads like one part parable, one part Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing.
  • The Art of Archie: The Covers. Everyone loves Archie–no, really. They do. This is an exquisitely produced book showcasing decades of classic art in a premium format, and it’s 40% off right now. This would be a great gift at any age. So get it!

In non-comics linkage, it’s Cinco de Mayo tomorrow! Here’s an easy taco filling recipe from Martha Stewart, and I’ll post my taco salad recipe this week to deal with the leftovers.

Finally, in nostalgia: I’ve really, really been missing my favorite soap, All My Children, so I’ve been watching old clips on YouTube. Here’s a classic clip of Erica Kane, world’s shortest supermodel, out-weirding a crazy homeless lady as she attempts to deliver a ransom to Billy Clyde Tuggle for her presumed-dead (eaten by sharks!) husband, Adam Chandler. There’s also a great bit by Christine Baranski (The Good Wife).

See you later this week!