Members of the cousinry came for lunch recently and the experience was an eye-opener in understanding the effects of having broken my wrist. Yes, the cast is off and physio is coming along nicely, but let’s just say that preparing a meal is the kitchen equivalent of walking through water. Everything takes that much longer and requires more energy. Unfortunately, being the optimist that I am, my strategy for executing this meal was based on my normal capabilities.
Even though I’d started to prep the night before, when my cousins arrived for lunch the food wasn’t ready and I hadn’t had that spare 20 minutes where normally I change my clothes and tastefully tart myself up. But no matter, there were helping hands and lunch made it to the table not too, too late. And the star of the meal, a Tex-Mex Taco Salad, was worth the wait!
It was a pretty simple lunch, just soup and salad with cupcakes for dessert. The soup was my Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato, but a kicked up version (okay, that was a bit of an accident since I grabbed a container of tomato sauce jazzed up with cherry bomb peppers from the freezer instead of a plain version). But, let’s forget all that and focus on the salad. Yes, I’ve made similar salads before, but this version was much more refined than any of its predecessors.
The recipe is from the “Sensational Summer Salads” cooking class I attended recently at Jill’s Table here in London 🍁. It’s one of my favourite places to shop for all things kitchen and I’d been wanting to take a class there for years. I finally treated myself and had an enjoyable evening, trying three different salads including this one, and experiencing tastings of olive oils, vinegars and salts. I also had my first introduction to avocado oil, with its deep green, jewel-like colour and intense avocado flavour.
This taco salad is perfect for casual entertaining, a view reinforced by my diners. You need only look at the ingredient list to know that it offers a medley of both flavours and textures. Serving it in a baked, fluted tortilla adds a visual wow factor and a dollop of pico de gallo parties it up with extra pizzazz. The only change I made to the recipe was to add thin slices of grilled steak to keep the men at the table happy.
This salad will be a staple this summer — all it needs is a patio table and an ice-cold cerveza.
DISCLAIMER: The recipe below is provided with permission by Jill Wilcox. I paid for my cooking class, was not asked to write this post and am not being compensated for it. When I run across a recipe this good, how could I not share it? All opinions are, of course, my own.
Tex Mex Taco Salad with Black Beans, Roasted Corn and Queso Fresco in An Avocado Dressing
Recipe by Jill Wilcox; shared with permission. My notes are in italics. Serves 6 portioned as a first course. Of course, you might want to share it among two or three people as the main course of your meal. You can prep the night before by grilling the corn and red pepper, along with the steak of your choice if you choose to add thin slices of it as I did.
Tex Mex Taco Salad
- 6 flour tortillas (large size)
- 1 tin black beans, rinsed and drained (I used the 19 oz size)
- 2 cups roasted corn
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 roasted red pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 3 cups salad greens
- 2/3 cup crumbled Queso Fresco
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Optional: thin slices of grilled steak
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tsp oregano (dried)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 375ºF. Bake tortillas in a tortilla baker until crispy (about 10 minutes). Remove and repeat until they are all made. (If you don’t have a tortilla baker, drape tortilla over a small inverted oven-proof bowl. Press 5 flutes with your fingers and then bake as above.)
- In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, red onion, jalapeno, red pepper and cilantro. Toss lightly.
- Make the dressing by combining the avocado oil, lime juice and oregano in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the dressing over the bean mixture. Adjust seasoning. (Note: if you make and dress the bean mixture in advance, taste before serving to determine if more lime juice is required; the beans may have absorbed it and the flavour may need brightening.)
- Divide the greens among the tortilla bowls. Spoon the bean mixture over top.
- Sprinkle with cheese and garnish with avocado. Serve with pico de gallo.
Pico de Gallo
- 2 cups diced plum tomatoes
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 4 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 small jalapeño, seeded and diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt to taste.