This Healthy Taco Salad makes the perfect summertime lunch or dinner. It’s loaded with all your favorite taco toppings and dressed with an easy salsa lime vinaigrette.
Who doesn’t love a huge taco salad? I mean it’s a taco made into a salad; what else could you need in life?!
Here’s the thing: I love the idea of taco salads, but I’m almost always disappointed when I order one in a restaurant:
- They are always made with shredded iceberg lettuce. Okay, I get it: iceberg is crunchy. But it’s very low in nutrition, and IMHO if I am going to eat a salad I want it to be packed with as many nutrient-rich veggies as I can get. Let’s be honest, iceberg just tastes like crunchy water, am I right? Instead of iceberg how about some crunchy romaine lettuce that we chop up in thin strips? Romaine lettuce is packed with nutrition and lends a great earthy flavor.
- The dressing is usually a dollop of sour cream and a dollop of salsa. If you’re lucky you’ll also get a dollop of guacamole. Yes, this is what we use to top our tacos but I am not a fan of topping my salad with it. I can never seem to get the sour cream and salsa to distribute throughout the salad evenly. It turns into a gloppy mess on some bites and most of my bites of salad are lacking any sort of dressing. I think a salad should include a dressing that is thin enough to be mixed up throughout the entire salad, yet still thick enough to coat every bite of lettuce. Solution: let’s make a salsa lime vinaigrette, shall we? It’s easy; all you do is blend everything together in your blender until it’s nice and smooth and thick. No sour cream needed!
Before you get angry with me for ruining your taco salad eating experience let me tell you that this Healthy Taco Salad will make everything better! The good news: it’s easy to make. Let me show you!
First we make our salsa lime vinaigrette. The base of the dressing is store-bought salsa, so make sure you get some that has good flavor and isn’t too spicy. To the blender we add that salsa, fresh squeezed lime juice, olive oil, salt, cumin, and a few dashes of hot sauce – if you so desire. Blend everything up until it’s really smooth. Then add some cilantro leaves and pulse them into the salsa until they are in small bits. Set the dressing aside. Chop your romaine lettuce into small ribbons and place in your serving bowl. Then prepare your favorite taco salad ingredients: black beans, fresh corn kernels, grape tomatoes, black olives, cilantro leaves, green onions, crushed tortilla chips, and a ripe avocado. Set aside. FYI I didn’t use any cheddar cheese on our salad, mostly because I forgot it. To be honest I didn’t miss it one bit so I decided to leave it off, but feel free to add some cheese. Next brown up your ground beef, add a little gluten free seasoning mix, allow to cool slightly and then assemble all of the ingredients however you see fit. And devour.
See, now wasn’t that easy? And it only took us 25 minutes to make!
Healthy Taco Salad is made healthier by:
- Using the romaine lettuce; remember, more nutrients.
- Omitting the cheese, not missed by me, but I totally understand if you want to add it!
- Crushing up a few tortilla chips rather than serving the salad in a greasy fried tortilla shell.
- Omitting the sour cream and making our own salsa lime vinaigrette! Go us!
- Loading up on the veggies, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, black olives, green onion, avocado and, of course, black beans for fiber!
Healthy Taco Salad is perfect for a hot summer lunch or dinner because you only have to turn on your stove for 10 minutes to cook the ground beef. It’s versatile: swap the ground beef for ground turkey/chicken or even grill up some chicken breast with some taco seasoning. This salad is fresh, filling, and festive. It would make the perfect healthy dinner to serve to friends.
I hope you give this recipe a try and if you do don’t forget to leave a comment below and rate the recipe! See you next time!
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1 cup salsa (be sure to use a salsa with a flavor you like that isn’t too spicy)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- Juice of 1½ limes
- Few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 1 head romaine lettuce, shredded (see photo)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 to 2 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob (raw)
- ½ cup grape tomatoes, halved
- Sliced black olives, drained
- 1 avocado, cubed
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 green onions, chopped
- ½ cup tortilla chips, broken (or tortilla strips)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef (can sub ground chicken or turkey)
- 2 tablespoons gluten free taco seasoning*
- Fine sea salt to taste
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- To a blender add all ingredients except for the cilantro leaves. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Add the cilantro leaves and pulse them into the dressing until they are well chopped but not pureed. Set the dressing aside.
- FOR THE SALAD:
- Shred the romaine lettuce by holding the root end of the head and chopping at the leafy end, creating thin ribbons (see picture). Wash and dry lettuce thoroughly. Place in serving bowl.
- Prepare the remainder of the vegetables as instructed in the ingredients list above. Arrange on top of the lettuce.
- To cook the meat heat a large skillet over medium heat, then heat the oil. Add the ground beef and use a wooden spoon to break it up. Cook until no pink remains, about 10 minutes.
- If there is a lot of grease, drain it off.
- Add the gluten free taco seasoning (see notes for suggestions), plus 1/2 cup water. Cook on medium high until most of the water has evaporated.
- Add salt to taste. Allow to cool slightly.
- Just before serving add the ground beef to the salad and dress with the salsa lime vinaigrette.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container lined with paper towels to absorb any moisture. Dress just before serving to prevent soggy lettuce.
If you prefer store-bought taco seasoning there may be some certified gluten free brands available. However, I have not used any.
Nutrition Facts are a rough estimation. Everything varies depending on how much of each kind of toppings you prefer. This calculation does not include cheese. Also, remember you can swap the ground beef for ground chicken or turkey to make it even more lean.