Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner. Being Americans, we get to celebrate each other’s holidays and this occasion gives us an excuse to eat Mexican food on a day other than Taco Tuesday. But like meatloaf, every family has their version of Taco Salad. No two are quite alike.
I’ve found recipes for Taco Salad that include ground beef (or turkey); iceberg lettuce (and/or romaine); onions (cooked with the meat or not); black beans (kidney or garbanzo, or none); corn chips (taco chips or a shell); black olives, corn green onions, or not; cheese (Colby, Monterey Jack or Cheddar); tomatoes; Catalina dressing (and/or salsa), sour cream (yogurt or guacamole topping).
DIY Taco Salad
Rather than layering everything in a bowl and mixing it just before serving, I make individual Design-It-Yourself Taco Salads. I set out the bowls of ingredients, sauces and cooked, seasoned beef. Everyone creates their own, including whichever items they prefer. Some go heavy on the meat, others pile on the lettuce. DIY Taco Salad works for a variety of taste preferences and ages.
“Senora Jean’s Casa Blend“
I know the quickest way to spice up the beef (or turkey), is to grab a packet of El Paso or Ortega from the Mexican food aisle. That is, until one day I was without and threw together several spices that I had in my kitchen. Now here’s what I do:
Put one pound of ground beef in a skillet and add the following blend: 1 Tbs. chili powder and 1/4 tsp. each of onion powder, garlic powder, and oregano; 1/2 tsp. paprika, 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin and a teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Add a 1/2 cup water to skillet, stir and heat to blend. That’s it! If you want to kick it up a notch, add a pinch of cayenne red pepper.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
(Note: For you history buffs, Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.)