Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Beef taco salad with chunky tomato dressing

According to Wendy's, it's there.  Don't you love that the company has revived it's famous slogan from 1984?  I hear that was quite a great year :)

Finding myself in search of beef but not quite willing to give in to fast food so early in the week (it was only Tuesday!), I thanked my lucky stars and planning prowess that I had the makings for a spicy and hearty beef dish.

Beef taco salad!  Trust me.  You want to make this right now.  So glad I dismissed that craving for Wendy's because this was a million times better!... and without any guilt!!

Smoky seasoned lean ground beef and black beans.  Crisp chopped romaine hearts.  Sharp white cheddar cheese.  Yum!

As if all of that weren't enough, it's all topped with a seriously outstanding homemade tomato lime dressing.  Tangy and juicy and so full of those southwest flavors I love so much!  The smoky chili powder and hot cayenne pepper were begging for a little bit of ground cumin to join the party, and I was happy to oblige. 

BEST.SALAD.EVER!  I know that you know I'm not exactly a salad cheerleader, but trust me when I say this was incredible.  Not only was it mouthwatering-ly delicious, but it achieved the unthinkable -- it made me forget all about the aforementioned W-word.

Look at all of that food, folks!  Done in under 20 minutes, and all for around 430 calories, too.  And I was s-t-u-f-f-e-d to the gills.  TGFBTS -- Thank goodness for beef taco salads! :)

Beef Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing
(adapted from Ellie Krieger's recipe)
-serves 4

A few notes: "There's nothing dainty about this salad. With mounds of chili-spiced beef and sharp cheddar cheese over a bed of crisp greens, all doused with a chunky tomato lime dressing and topped with a shards of corn chips, it has high-impact flavor and heartiness to satisfy even the biggest appetites," says Ellie.

3/4 pound lean ground beef (90 percent lean or higher)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
Dash of ground cumin
1/3 cup water
4 medium tomatoes or two large, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I used sharp white)
Baked corn tortilla chips, optional (I omitted)

To prepare the meat, heat a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally and breaking the meat up with the spoon. Add the garlic and beans and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chili powder, cayenne and water and stir until well combined and some but not all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. Meat mixture may be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

To make the tomato dressing, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes (with their juices), oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Dressing may be prepared up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Place 2 cups of lettuce on each plate or in a lunch container. Top each serving with 1 cup of the beef mixture then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese. If making to-go, pack 3/4 cup of the tomato mixture in a separate sealable container and put about 8 chips in a separate bag. Right before eating, pour a portion of the tomato mixture with the liquid on top of each salad, and crush tortilla chips on top.

Nutritional analysis per serving (Serving size: 2 cups lettuce, 1 cup beef mixture, 2 tablespoons cheese, 3/4 cup of tomato mixture, and about 8 crushed tortilla chips)

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