When I was in junior high school, my favorite class was Home Economics. I loved that class so much that I wanted to major in the subject in college, but was convinced by my father to choose Psychology instead. Strangely, many of the recipes I learned then are still stuck in my memory and Taco Salad is one of them. I remember at that time that it involved cooking ground Beef and adding Taco Seasoning to it and then assembling a salad that involved Lettuce, Tomatoes, Tortilla Chips, Kidney Beans, Cheese, Black Olives, Sour Cream and Salsa. I remember feeling daring because I added in Red Onion!
Today I had a hankering for that salad and decided to recreate it by taking out the Cheese and Sour Cream for starters and also seasoning the ground Beef from scratch instead of relying on a packaged mix. If you still like that flavor, feel free to use the mix that you can still buy at the store in your version. I put Black Olives on my son's portion and put Cheese on his portion too. I left out the Beans, as they don't agree with me. However, they do add another great layer of flavor and texture and if you are a vegetarian, the Kidney Beans can act as the protein instead of the Beef.
To update this Taco Salad, I added some Romaine Lettuce along with the original Iceberg, as it is a bit more nutritious. And because I like color, I used Blue Corn Tortilla chips. Instead of Sour Cream and Salsa, I mixed together Mayonnaise and Salsa. I made a great big bowl of Taco Salad and it was divine! It also brought back many happy memories of making this for dinner for my family and yet it was also just a bit more refined than my previous version. You know what? It's still a great summer salad!
Retro Taco Salad
For the Beef:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 of a Red Onion, chopped
1/2 pound ground Beef
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground Cumin
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup Chicken Broth (or Beef Broth)
Brown the ground Beef, Garlic and Red Onions together in a frying pan until the beef is no longer pink. Drain the fat or blot the pan with a clean paper towel. Then, add in the Seasonings and the Broth. Cook until the Broth is nearly evaporated. Cool slightly before using in the salad.
For the Salad:
4 cups Lettuce - a combination of Iceberg and Romaine
1 cup Cherry Tomatoes, cut into slices
2 cups Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (can also use regular ones), very lightly crushed with your hands to make smaller pieces
1 small can (or 1/2 can) drained Kidney Beans
1 small can sliced Black Olives, drained
1/2 cup shredded or cubed Cheddar Cheese
1/3 cup Sour Cream to replace the Mayonnaise
For the Dressing:
1/3 cup Best Foods (or Hellmans, Heinz or Kraft) Mayonnaise
1/2 Red Onion chopped
2/3 cup jarred Salsa (I used Trader Joe's)
Mix together with a whisk until blended.
To Assemble the Salad:
In a large salad bowl, put in the Lettuce, Tomatoes along with the Kidney Beans and Black Olives (if using). Top with the Tortilla Chips and then the ground Beef. Pour the dressing on top and toss thoroughly. Add Cheddar Cheese (if using) and serve immediately. If serving later, leave off the dressing and omit the Tortilla Chips unti already to serve.
Five Element Analysis
Salad is a Fiery food and this salad incorporates a lot of the Fire Element. It is composed of Lettuce, Tomatoes, Salsa, Chili Powder and Cayenne too. The Earth Element is present in the Tortilla Chips and the Ground Beef. The Mayonnaise adds some Metal and Water (because of the Eggs) and the Red Onion, Garlic and Spices contribute even more of the Metal Element as does the Cheddar Cheese (if you use this ingredient). The Water Element is seen in the Kidney Beans because they look like Kidneys and Black Olives because the Lives are a Water Color (if you are using), but the Olives are also part of the Wood Element as is the Chicken Broth. There are so many ingredients in this salad that there is an intrinsic Five Element balance in one big bowl!