Sunday 11 August 2019

Summer Taco Salad

I think most would agree that tacos are preferred over a salad any day of the week, and I bet on restaurant menus everywhere, if both are on a menu, tacos would most likely always win. But, the spin of putting the taco elements into a salad makes this a complete and satisfying meal in itself. 

It makes large hefty portions, as you can see from my generous plating up, and that's not down to the leafy green bit alone! I believe this salad converts even those salad haters out there with all the interesting flavorful elements added from the filling kidney beans to the part which makes it a taco -  the crushed salty tortilla chips. 

It's not too spicy but it can certainly be adjusted to how you like it, just add more chilli powder to the beef and be sure to add the chipotle paste into the dressing for a sweet, smoky rich hit of spice. Cater this salad to whatever tastes you have, swap the feta for manchego or none at all if you want to keep it vegan, then switch the beef to firm tofu crumbled and then cooked as the recipe follows for beef. 

I've called it a summer taco salad as it's the style of food that I like to eat in the summer when we have those warm evenings and I crave something a bit lighter and fresher (although those days seem a bit of a distant memory at the moment, I'll have to imagine I'm sat somewhere else!)  I don't want to put you off from having this at any time of the year though, I can picture that this would make a great platter for people to help themselves to at a Christmas party too. 

This recipe was adapted from one of my favourite food writers - Anna Jones' 'The Modern Cook's Year'.

Summer Taco Salad

Serves 4


250g baby plum tomatoes
500g lean beef mince
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
a pinch of chilli powder
¼ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 unwaxed lime
2 heads of romaine lettuce
1 large avocado
1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 spring onions, thinly sliced
a small bunch of coriander, leaves picked
80g (2 handfuls) plain salted tortilla chips
100g (about ¾ cup crumbled) feta

For the dressing
6 tbsp passata
6 tbsp cider vinegar
4 tbsp rapeseed oil or mild olive oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
¾ tsp smoked paprika or chipotle paste


Preheat your oven to 170°C/gas 3/ 340°F. 

Slice the tomatoes in half and place on a baking tray, cut side up, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile to cook your beef mince, heat a frying pan on a high heat with a little olive oil and then once hot, add the mince to the pan. Break the mince up with a wooden spoon as it starts to brown and continue to keep moving it around the pan until all the liquid juices have evaporated. As this point the meat will start to caramelise and crisp up, season with salt and pepper, add in the chilli, paprika, cumin, garlic, lime zest and juice. Stir it to coat the beef and cook for a minute or two to take the rawness out of the spices and garlic. Take off the heat and cover to keep warm. 

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a jug and mix well. 

Shred the lettuce heads into fine strips and arrange onto your salad platter or individual serving plates. Prepare the avocado by halving, stoning, scooping from the skin and slicing into small chunks. Sprinkle the chunks over the lettuce. 

Add the drained and rinsed kidney beans to a bowl with the thinly sliced spring onions and roughly chopped coriander leaves. Pour in about a quarter of the prepared salad dressing, and stir the beans to coat altogether. Spoon the bean mixture over the lettuce bed, then top with the crispy cooked beef, crumble over feta chunks and crushed up tortilla chips, then finish with the roasted tomatoes. 

Serve the salad with the rest of the dressing to be poured over at the table. 

This salad is best eaten whilst the beef is still warm but the beef could be left till its cold and then top the salad with it to avoid wilting the leaves, store it the fridge in an air tight container and eat from cold. However, if the avocado is left till the next day as chunks, you should squeeze over some lime juice to prevent it from going brown.