Taco Salad

novice

thanks to Charlotte for suggesting I include my learn to cook dude!

This is one of Ryan and my favorite, go-to, weeknight dinner recipes. Ryan loves Mexican flavors. I love rice and beans. It’s a great meal. But even so, I’ve been debating about posting this. I even made a pros and cons list. Here it is:

Cons –

  • Creates a lot of dishes and that’s annoying
  • Requires some finesse and timing. Lots of things are cooking at the same time, which can be stressful

Pros –

  • Takes less than 45 minutes to make everything
  • Tasty and filling
  • It’s easy to make a lot, so it’s great for guests or if you want some to take for lunch
  • There’s lots of options for making this even faster or even more homemade (more on that below)
  • There’s lots of options for adding all the toppings and add-on foods that you like

So the pros outweigh the cons, which means you all get a nice recipe. Before we get started let me tell you about some of the options to amp up or amp down this recipe.

imageI use canned beans, frozen sofrito, and a taco seasoning packet. I prefer using these products because they still taste great and they decrease my prep time. Specifically, I liked Goya pink beans or any brand’s pinto beans. But of course you could use black beans, re-fried beans, or whatever kind of beans you like. If you don’t like canned beans, by all means use dried beans. People tell me they are much better, but I grew up often eating canned beans so I like them just fine.

You can also make your own sofrito. If you’re not familiar, it’s a tomato based seasoning blend. I prefer not to make it because it requires a lot of ingredients, some of which can be hard to find. If you are so inclined, a recipe I like is from Wilo Benet’s book Puerto Rico True Flavors. You can also do some Googling, and find a recipe you like. But the Goya frozen sofrito is great because it’s such a big tub and it keeps for a long time.

Finally, I buy taco seasoning packets. Again, it’s because taco seasoning is made up of a lot of ingredients and not all of which are already in my spice cabinet. However, when I’ve found myself without a seasoning packet, I’ve used this recipe.

Now, for the rice. I’m going to give you the recipe for making rice on the stove. I don’t have a rice cooker so I don’t know how that works, but go ahead and use it if you have it. If you really want to save yourself time, go ahead and use Uncle Ben’s 90 second rice – but I’ll be judging you a little bit. And I’ll be judging only because I think you should try stove making rice before you go to prepared rice. I’ve totally had Uncle Ben’s 90 second rice (sorry Mom), but the bag doesn’t make much and it’s not cost effective. I like making rice myself because it’s largely passive cooking, it makes a ton, and it’s cheap. Seriously a 2 pound bag of rice cost about $2 and will last a long time.

Just a few more notes and we’ll get to cooking. I never use tortillas when Ryan and I make taco salad. This is largely because I feel guilty about waste. I buy a bag of tortillas, we use about 6 and then they go stale and I feel bad about throwing them away. Usually Ryan and I make a taco salad heap and then use chips to scoop up the food. Feel free to use taco shells, tortillas, chips, or just a fork. Make it your own.

You'll have three things going at once. I like rice on the back burner and beans and meat on the front too. This way, when you stir, you aren't reaching over anything.

You’ll have three things going at once. I like rice on the back burner and beans and veggies/meat on the front two. This way, when you stir, you aren’t reaching over anything.

And the last thing about “make it your own,” is that this meal allows for you to put whatever you like on top of it. We usually add at least cheese and salsa, but there’s so many more options and I’ll list some below.

That’s enough background, let’s get to cooking. With this recipe you’ll be cooking 3 things. The directions will be all together, and I’m doing this because it should allow you get all 3 dishes finished at the same time. And that’s what you want because then you can serve everything hot.

Ingredients you don’t have to cook and can use as toppings:

salsa

chopped tomatoes

shredded cheese

sour cream

lettuce

guacamole

Ingredients (for the cooking-part):

1 cup long grain white rice (you can also use other types of rice if you prefer)

2 cups water

1 tbsp butter

1 medium onion

1 can Goya pink beans

1/4 cup Goya frozen sofrito

1-2 bell peppers (any color you like)

1 tbsp and 1 tsp (or 4 tsp) taco seasoning

1 lb ground turkey (or beef if you prefer)

Directions:

1. Start with the rice. I recommend following the package instructions, but I’ll also give you my instructions. Use a back burner, this is important because you need 2 other burners and the rice will be largely left alone so it shouldn’t be in the front. Anyway, add 1 cup of rice, 2 cups of water, and 1 tbsp of butter to a medium pot. Bring the water to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn the heat to low. Cover the pot and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  I recommend you set a timer for 20 minutes and use it to help you synchronize the rest of your cooking.

2. While you’re waiting for the rice. Chop the bell pepper and onion in strips.

3. When you have about 15 minutes left on your rice timer, heat a large pan (on a front burner) on medium. Once it gets hot enough, saute your onions and pepper strips until they are browned and soft. This takes about 5-7 minutes.

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4. At about 12 minutes left on your rice timer, put the beans (and the liquid in the can) in a small pot. Add the sofrito. (Note: if you’re using frozen sofrito, microwave the tub for 30 seconds and then scrape out 1/4 cup. It’s not serious if you have more or less). Simmer the beans on medium for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Beans are done when they are tender and hot throughout.

5. Ok, once your peppers and onions are soft, remove them from the pan and set aside. You should have about 8-10 minutes left on your rice timer. Add the ground turkey to the hot pan. Stir in the taco seasoning. Cook until the meat isn’t pink. This takes about 5-7 minutes. Stir the onions and peppers back in. (Note: You don’t have to mix the onions and peppers in with the meat, but I like to because it ensures we eat our vegetables).

6. Put a paper towel on a plate. Pour the cooked ground turkey on the paper towel plate and let the grease drain.

7. Your timer should be going off! Check the rice! Take off the lid, use a fork and push aside the rice so you can see the bottom of the pan. Is there water? The rice isn’t done. Is it dry and does the rice look fluffy? Then it’s done! Fluff it up and serve. (Note: Technically you shouldn’t open the lid while you’re cooking rice but if you’re new to this, I suggest checking on the rice maybe 5-7 minutes before it’s supposed to be done. This will help you gauge if the rice is cooking too fast (the water is already gone) or if there is some water left then things are going well).

8. Turn off all your burners and you should be ready to serve! I like rice on the bottom, then beans with their juices, then meat, then toppings. But you should plate however you like!

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Messy level – This is a three spoon recipe because of the amount of dishes this makes. You’re going to use 2 pots, 1 pan, a knife, and a cutting board. And if you put all your toppings in serving bowls, you’ve got yourself quite the mess. But, in terms of cooking, this doesn’t make much of a mess. The technique is pretty much heat, stir, serve so there’s no splatter or craziness. I think it’s worth the mess. And Ryan’s my resident dish washer and requests this meal, so the dishes can’t be that bad… right?

This past weekend, Ryan and I had dinner with our friend Shane and his girlfriend, Molly. Shane told me he had been binge-reading my blog. I was so touched, and I told him I’d give him a shout out in my next post. So here it is: Hi Shane!! Thank you for reading my blog!

Want a shout out of your own? Post a comment about something food related and the next shout out could be yours. Tell me about your favorite meal, favorite dish you’ve had on vacation, childhood favorite, a food you’re afraid of, or whatever you want. If I like the post, I’ll give you a shout out. 

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3 thoughts on “Taco Salad

  1. Great recipe. Thanks for confessing to the Uncle Ben’s rice but promise you won’t serve it to me when I get demented!
    Mama

  2. I love recipes that you can make lots of and then have leftovers. One of my favorites is my mom’s rigatoni casserole – it’s one you can make a little healthier if you want, or a little less healthy. You can also make a big pan of it and eat it for days or a small one for a couple of days. Whenever anyone asks for recipes, that’s the one I give them 🙂

  3. This one might need the little learn-to-cook guy picture. Good beginner information on cooking rice and managing several things at once!

    ________________________________

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