Eating better food for less and other tales from a no-moneymoon

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Taco Salad That Won't Kill You

Yes, salad can be bad for you. That's been a recent item in the news, although how it's news when your floppy greens arrive in an oil-slicked taco basket, smeared with sour cream and piled high with queso, I'm not quite sure. But all that discussion of unhealthy salads sure did make me hungry for a version of my own.

So with one of Mr. Lemon's more practical Iron Chef game purchases (ground chicken), the leftover tomato puree from paella-fest and some onions, garlic and pepper from the CSA, well, it was spicy spicy taco time. I could have held back a little on the tomato to make this more like taco filling, but I figured the extra veggie couldn't hurt the ol' healthy eating effort.

Also on deck: tomato and raw corn salsa. Just a little PA Dutch dose of apple cider vinegar and sugar softened the corn's starchiness and brought out the sweetness of the tomato. And the leftover tomato-vinegar-sugar juice make a light dressing for the lettuce to boot.

Spicy Spicy (and healthy) Taco Salad

1 head of iceberg (yes, you need it's refreshing wateriness)
1 big garden rip tomato
1 ear corn
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
Olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red pepper, diced
1/2 lb. ground chicken
14 oz tomato puree
1 heaping teaspoon cumin (heaping = throw it in!)
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (gives it the extra "spicy")
Salt and ground pepper
Cilantro, a handful washed and torn
Itty bit of cheddar cheese (optional)

In a larger saute pan, cook the onion, garlic and pepper until soft-ish in some olive oil over high heat. Push the veg. to the side and add your ground chicken. Salt and pepper heavily and cook, breaking it up as it gets firmer, until white through and through.

Add the tomato puree and all the spices. Bring to a boil and turn back the heat to let this simmer.

Meanwhile, get the salad and salsa ready: shred the iceberg and pile it high on the plate. Combine the chopped tomato and all its juices with the corn, sliced off the cob. (Save the cob for soup!) Add the vinegar and sugar (equal portions is the key), and let it meld together. I also added salt and pepper to help bring the flavors out. The corn will still be crunchy, though, so this is your greasy-taco-shell substitute.

Pile it high: iceberg + chili + salsa + torn cilantro + itty bits of cheddar.

Fast and easy dinner
Spicy chicken chili is filling and flavorful without being greasy
Thriftier then going to Applebee's

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