What’s for Dinner: Taco Salad

I’ll admit, I’m pretty proud of this one. For several reasons. This past weekend, DH and I went grocery shopping together for the first time in… years. Not because I don’t like grocery shopping (I do) — it’s simply because we discovered in the first few years of marriage that it was one of those activities we couldn’t do together. Brand preferences abound, arguments ensued. But, since it is one of those domestic tasks that DH actually enjoys accomplishing (and once I got over my own case of housewifely pride), he took over all grocery shopping a couple years ago. He really gets a kick out of finding the best deal. I’m not complaining.

I also happened to clean out our refrigerator on Saturday for the first time in…. wait, I don’t want to tell you that. Let’s just say it had been a while since the walls of that fridge saw bleach. Either way, thanks to this new-found nesting instinct I’m getting a lot accomplished around the house these days (and on this blog, if you haven’t noticed)! So our sparkly clean fridge was ready to house the small assortment of carefully planned food items I picked out for this week’s dinners. DH does the shopping but I still do the meal-planning (most days) and the goal is always healthy and tasty. Sometimes it’s hard to get both. But this meal really worked!

So tonight’s dinner incorporated not only a healthy dose of fresh veggies, but also a little bit of leftovers magic. Last night’s dinner was Grilled Sausage Hoagies with Sauteed Red Peppers & Onions and Summer Corn Salad (with a few tweaks). I used fresh corn for the recipe (how could you not in the middle of summer!) — a quick steam in the microwave makes for fast and easy cooking. And fresh just tastes better. I chopped up onions, red peppers and celery to toss with the corn. I then stowed away half of the mixed in tupperware for what would become a portion of tonight’s taco salad. The remaining mixture was the perfect amount to serve two for the Corn Salad (note: I left out the feta cheese, it really didn’t need it, although it probably would have tasted good).

Tonight when I got home from work, my first task was to prepare the yummy Mexican-cuisine-inspired dressing for the salad. This is the recipe I started with, but ended up adjusting it a little bit based on my available ingredients. Here’s what I ended up with:

Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette

  • 3 T lime juice (about 1.5 limes)
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce + 1/2 T sauce (find it in the Hispanic food aisle at the grocery store)
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder 
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 1 T sugar  
  • 1 T chopped cilantro 

Mix all ingredients together in a blender and add water or sugar to taste (will tone down spiciness if it’s got too much heat) 

I was hoping to have some leftover of this dressing to use another night, but we liked it so much we used it all up! My lettuce mix included chopped Romaine hearts (I cheated and bought the bagged version), my corn-onion-celery-red pepper mix from last night’s dinner, fresh chopped cilantro, 1 diced tomato and half a cucumber, diced. Lots of good veggies! I also dished out a separate portion of this salad mix into a tupperware for my lunch tomorrow… aren’t I great at planning ahead? 😉

For the protein, I sauteed half a pound of ground beef with a fancy taco mix DH picked up at Whole Foods. I don’t remember the brand name, but you mix it with 1/3 cup of beer — great flavor! I tossed in a can of black beans at the end to prevent overcooking. Each element of the salad was “self serve” at the table and we topped it off with a handful of crushed Trader Joe’s Soy & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips. I meant to add a little shredded cheese on top as well, but forgot. It didn’t really need it. You know how I know this dinner was a success? DH went for seconds. 🙂 This recipe is definitely a keeper. And I would use this dressing on just about any salad or maybe as a marinade — it’s the perfect combination of sweet and spicy.


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