>One of the most comforting meals that I grew up with is taco salad. Now, admittedly, it had a far racier (ahem) name when I was growing up, but I blame it on the lack of political correctness that defined much of the late 70’s and 80’s. Despite such a questionable history, though, when burritos weren’t on the menu–a rarity indeed–taco salad was. In hindsight, I recognize that this salad is just a deconstructed, dressed-up version of the burritos my mom so frequently served, but there’s something about Fritos that changes this dish into something spectacular. My mom served her burrito filling over Fritos and topped it with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese. Mine is served on top of a bed of chopped Romaine hearts, a layer of Fritos, and topped with chipotle ranch and cilantro (and, usually, fresh diced tomatoes). Josh texted me the other day when he took leftovers to say that he thinks this might be his favorite food ever.
Taco Salad Filling
1 block of tempeh (crumbled in the food processor)
1/2 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 small zucchini, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-ish cups of water
1 heaping tbsp. chili powder (I sometimes add more depending on the strength of the chili powder)
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 can of refried beans
In a small bowl, mix together spices. Set aside. Next, in a soup pan or large skillet, saute onion, pepper, and zucchini in a little bit of oil over medium high heat until onion turns translucent and all the veggies are beginning to brown. Add tempeh and saute until it too browns a little. Add spices and saute for a minute more, then add water and scrape any cooked on spices off the bottom of the pan. Turn heat down to medium-low. Add tomatoes and corn. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken and the water is mostly cooked off. Stir in refried beans and heat through.
Serve over romaine and Fritos and top with whatever you like. This is particularly good with chipotle ranch, but salsa and guacamole are delicious toppers to.