What do you do with the small broken pieces that appear at the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips? Too small to dip into hummus. Too narrow to hold any salsa.
If you're like me, you might hang on to them until they get undeniably stale and then eventually throw them away.
But there's another way.
For someone who loves to cook and enjoys food as much as I do, it's sometimes hard even for me to believe that growing up I didn't care much for food. I ate (obviously!) but meals weren't something I looked forward to or paid much attention. Eating was a necessity, rarely a joy.
But there were a few exceptions. My Mom's taco salad was one of them.
We came to enjoy what we considered Mexican cuisine later than many. My first burrito was in Epcot Center in sixth grade. When I tell my girls this they can not fathom such an existence. They haven't even gotten to the sixth grade and have probably had 50 burritos already. When I tell them I didn't even know what an avocado was at their age, they scream in horror before laughing. Life was so weird in the late 70s and early 80s.
To be honest, I remember only a few ingredients in Mom's taco salad: lettuce, cheese, pinto beans, a certain brand of curly corn chips and French dressing. Yes, French dressing. I know.
Recently when I came once again face to face with the bottom of a bag of tortilla chips, I wondered, why can't they make bags so the chips don't break? Quickly followed by, what can I do with these? And the answer was surprisingly simple: make a salad.
This taco salad bears a slight resemblance to the taco salad of my youth, but it also happens to be a great way to serve lots of vegetables in a family-friendly dish. (No French dressing required!) This is a main dish salad for sure. Or a great one to bring to a summer picnic.
Feel free to mix in some other greens like green or red leaf lettuce, or even some massaged Red Russian Kale or Swiss chard,to really up the nutrition and add even more variety. As I teach in my e-course Learn to LOVE Greens, you shouldn't be afraid to substitute your greens and mix it up to keep things interesting. Adding different greens to recipes your family already likes is one of the easiest ways to do just that.
We like our taco salad with salsa verde, but use your favorite salsa – from mild to super hot – to make it just how you like. The avocado and salsa mix together to create a delicious oil-free dressing that is very satisfying. And definitely not French.
If some people like it spicier than others, offer sliced jalapeños and tabasco on the side. My younger daughter like to put some vegan sour cream on hers as well.
Get your ingredients out, chop and assemble and you’ve got a no cook dinner on the table in 15 minutes. This is a great one to teach the kids how to make on their own. So one day when they're faced with the bottom on a bag of tortilla chips, they'll know exactly what to do.
15 Minute Taco Salad
2 romaine hearts, chopped (or one head of romaine)
1 ripe avocado, diced
¼ cup black olives, sliced (I use Kalamata)
½ pint grape tomatoes, halved
3 sliced scallions or ¼ cup diced red onion
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, diced
15oz can black or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup cooked or frozen corn
1 cup salsa (or to taste)
handful of tortilla chips, lightly crushed, or whatever remains at the bottom of the bag
Combine the romaine, avocado, olives, tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, pepper and beans in a large serving bowl.
If using frozen corn, rinse with warm water to thaw. Then add to the salad, along with the salsa.
Toss the salad for a minute or two to get the ingredients nice and mingled and give the salsa and avocado a chance to coat everything.
Refrigerate before serving (preferably no more than an hour) then toss in the tortilla chip pieces right before serving.
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