Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fresh and Zesty Taco Salad

Earlier this week, I made a pot of Black Bean Soup and had one of those slap-your-forehead moments. No one should eat bowl after bowl of Black Bean Soup! How could I use those addictive, cumin-flavored beans in smaller doses?

My first idea was a riff on another salad we love around here. I'll be tweaking it a little more, but the flavor combination was delicious, as is. A quick rinse to the soupy black beans, for aesthetics mostly, added lots of depth to the flavor of the salad. Now for me, just the idea of using the beans in other recipes would be reason enough to make a whole pot of Black Bean Soup, but canned black beans would work too. The soup recipe does make enough for an army, so it would be easy enough to eat some, give some to the neighbors and still freeze some of it in one cup containers to thaw and use later for salad. . . tacos. . . burritos. . . nachos. . . or. . . whatever inspiration comes to you.

Maybe a good recipe is like a good small kitchen appliance -- it should be able to function and serve more than one purpose. Like my new tortilla press, which now make tortillas. . . AND tortillas make tortilla chips for (you see this coming, don't you?). . . Fresh and Zesty Taco Salad! It's almost like an entire cuisine could be based on beans and tortillas.

Who knew Black Bean Soup could be so inspiring!

I know we'll all be happy when I can learn how to work my new camera,
or I take a photography course,
or I cook during the natural light part of the day,
or I set up my light box somewhere permanently . . .

Until then, you've got the recipe and a general idea of the look.

1 oz. vinegar
1 oz. olive oil
1 oz. fresh orange juice
1/8 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. cumin (or more to taste)
1 tsp. Cholula hot sauce (or more to taste)
2 tbsp. honey

6-8 c. fresh lettuce mix – romaine, curly endive, butter head, iceberg, etc.
1 red bell pepper – sliced in 1-in. strips
4-6 green onions - chopped
1 c. canned red kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained
1 Haas avocado, peeled and diced
tortilla chips – broken into large pieces

Optional Additions for Main Dish Salad
2 grilled boneless chicken breasts, sliced
OR grilled fresh shrimp

Mix dressing and set aside. In a large bowl, combine lettuce, red bell pepper, green onions, beans, avocado and chicken slices or shrimp (if using) – toss to blend. Mix enough dressing with lettuce mixture to coat evenly. Add tortilla chips to salad and serve immediately.

Note: Maybe a little lime juice would give the dressing another flavor note. Hmmmm . . .


Kalyn Denny said...

Taco salad is my favorite food group. Sounds good!

Cora said...

Kalyn, you will need to add cilantro, of course!