Thursday, November 5, 2015

Two Bean Taco Salad

It’s November and I’m not eating stews or casseroles or breads or even testing baked goods. Nope. I’m making salad. A big taco salad. I’d like to say that I’m making a healthy push after Halloween and before the year-end heavy holidays, but…I don’t know. I just wanted to make this salad.

The original recipe, which I used to make much more regularly, got a big, lean protein bump from sliced, cooked chicken breast in addition to black beans and cheese. I just don’t eat much chicken anymore (or any other meats), so I decided to just replace it in this recipe with more beans. I had lots of black beans on hand, which I had cooked myself, but instead of just doubling the black bean volume, I opened a can of chickpeas instead. Pinto beans would have been just as nice, and a three-way split of pintos, black beans, and chickpeas would probably be even more exciting. (I like beans.)

The rest of the vegetables are pretty standard and what you might expect for a taco salad: lettuce, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers. All of the lines for those ingredients in the recipe text below could be qualified with the word “about” when it comes to volumes. Nothing needs to be exact in a salad. I’m sure you know that. Even the identity of the ingredients can be flexible. I, for one, am thinking of adding pepitas and olives.

Whatever you intend to toss into your taco salad, I recommend trying the dressing recipe, which I really didn’t change from the original. It’s perky and light with a bit of body from pureed tomato and fragrant with lime and cilantro. It’s a bit on the acidic side, which makes a great contrast to all the creamy beans. This salad might not be typical fall fare, but it is delicious and a lighter alternative to some of the yummier, but heavier dishes we crave this late in the year.

Two Bean Taco Salad with Tomato Lime Dressing
Adapted from Cooking Light, July 2000

Leave off the cheese and choose your tortilla chips appropriately, and this salad is vegan.

For the dressing:
¼ cup chopped tomato
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, peeled

For the salad:
8 cups chopped lettuce
1 ½ cups cooked black beans (drained and rinsed if canned)
1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (drained and rinsed if canned)
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup chopped bell pepper
1 cup finely diced onion
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
Tortilla chips to serve

1. To prepare the dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender. Process until very smooth.

2. To prepare the salad, place the lettuce in a large bowl. Layer the remaining salad ingredients, except the cheese and tortilla chips, on top of the lettuce. Pour the dressing over the salad. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the salad. Serve with tortilla chips.

Makes 4-5 main-dish salads.

Another recipe like this one: Bean Salad with Mole Vinaigrette

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