I have fond memories of my Mom’s tacos. She made tacos using ground beef, chopped onion, a package of Schilling Taco Seasoning, Ortega taco shells, American cheese, chopped tomatoes, grated carrot, and iceberg lettuce. I LOVED taco night. When I was a young married girl (yes, very young). How young? Well, let’s just say I was still technically a teenager when I crossed the threshold. YIKES. During the first week of our marriage, I made tacos for dinner. Now, you have to know that when Grant was a young strapping groom, even though he weighed about 150, he had the appetite of The Hulk. I could make a dinner for six and have NO LEFTOVERS. If you cook, you know how satisfying that is. I loved cooking, and he loved eating. Let me set the scene – We lived on 6th Avenue, right next to the Salt Lake City cemetery -a one bedroom apartment, with an all turquoise kitchen, complete with turquoise counter tops, refrig, oven, sink and carpet. Nowadays we would call that “vintage”. Back then, I thought, well, at least I didn’t get the apartment across the hall with PINK appliances and red carpet. We were students, poor and in love. Back to the food- So I whipped up some (I thought) yummy tacos one night. Grant sits down, and proceeds to eat ONE. Yes, ONE taco.
Him “Thanks for dinner, that was great”
Me “You are only eating ONE? Have some more”
Him “No thanks, I’m full”
Me “Are you sick??”
Him “No, just full”
Me ” NO, you aren’t full, did you already eat something else?”
Him “No, I’m just really full”
Me “You didn’t like it “
Him ” No, really (lie) I liked it, I’m just full”
Then I continue to grill him for the rest of the evening, until I find out Grant doesn’t like hard shell tacos. How could I have married a man who didn’t like hard shell tacos? I mean, I didn’t even know soft shell tacos or taco salad even existed until the early 80’s! Whatever.
And what’s up with not just fessing up and telling me ??? Maybe he thought I would make a big deal out of it or something silly like that…
So, I gave up making hard shell tacos and stick to soft tortillas and taco salads. This is a recipe I adapted from Cooking Light a few years back. It’s a simple ordinary dish, except for the dressing. The Cooking Light dressing has a lot of ZING to it.
Everyone in our family loves this. Even Grant.
Black Bean Chicken Taco Salad
3 chicken breast halves, or about 4 cups cooked chicken
8-10 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Cheddar or Jack cheese, grated
1 lime (half for chicken, half for dressing)
Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing:
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped
1 Tablespoon Taco seasoning
juice from half of one lime
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
fresh ground pepper
Lower in fat, great flavor
Cooking Light recipe:
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomato
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Cider Vinegar
2 teaspoons lime rind, grated
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 Tablespoons mayo (optional, but necessary in my opinion)
Season chicken with salt and pepper, squeeze juice from lime onto chicken. Cook in oven under broiler for about 8-10 minutes, depending on thickness of meat. Remove, and let cool, then slice and set aside. If the weather is nice enough , grilling this on the bbq is best.
Combine salad ingredients into large bowl. Toss with cooled chicken. Add desired amount of cheese and tortilla chips.
Combine all dressing ingredients into blender or bowl, and whisk or blend until smooth.
Unless the salad is being served and eaten all at one sitting, I toss the chips, cheese and dressing with each individual serving.
Great with a half bag of frozen corn, thawed, or chopped bell peppers or sliced olives.
Sometimes, I substitute sour cream for the mayo, or add 1/2 block (4 oz) of softened cream cheese to the dressing. In this case, I just add a little more garlic salt and taco seasoning.