Too Hot to Cook Taco Salad

Hi Gang!

Now before you all berate me about being MIA for several days, it wasn’t my fault.  The cooling fan on my laptop decided to put me out of service on Thursday (the 19th) about 30 minutes after I got on here.  I had just posted all the pictures from the Olympic Torch Relay onto my Facebook page and suddenly the fan got real loud; almost sounded like a jet engine starting up!  So long story short, it’s all better!

Summer had finally arrived here in the UK…and it was too darn hot to cook last week. (the weather has cooled down again…sigh)  So what better than a nice cool salad that’s easy to make and fairly healthy.  You can even make it ahead of time, stick it in the fridge and eat it later.  The only cooking involved is browning the meat, which shouldn’t be too difficult, even in the heat.  You will need to cook the beef early in the day so that it can cool down.  You can just plop this on the table with all the fixin’s and let everyone help themselves.

This is one of those things that we really don’t measure much of the ingredients, so I’ve given you some approximate amounts.  Chef P introduced me to this at one of my barbecues back in PA nearly 10 years ago.  This was the dish he brought.

When you brown the beef mince, you’ll want to season it quite well.  You can either use a pre-made chili powder or if you want, make your own which is what I did and it’s simple to do.  Below is the recipe for the chili powder mix.

Here’s what you’ll need….

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

lean beef mince (about 1 1/4 lbs or 500g)

4½ tsp chili powder (or make your own: 1 tsp each of cayenne, salt, cumin, oregano; 1/2 tsp garlic powder.  Combine until well mixed and set aside)

lettuce, any type (I used Romaine)

1-2 tomatoes (sliced or chopped)

1/2 English cucumber (thinly sliced or chopped, peeled or not)

kidney beans (1 X 14oz./400g can should suffice)

To serve…

Nacho chips

Salad dressing

Cheddar Cheese, grated

And here’s what to do….

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil to the pan, let it warm up and then add the beef mince and brown it, breaking up the pieces in the process.  When the meat in nearly browned, sprinkle over the chili powder and stir it in well until thoroughly mixed and the meat is fully cooked.

Line a bowl with paper towel and remove the meat from the pan to the bowl with a slotted spoon, let cool a few minutes, cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the beef is chilled, you can prepare the salad.  Get a large glass serving bowl (one of those clear glass bowls would be great for this so you can see everything!) and start with a few spoonfuls of the kidney beans, then add some beef, then some lettuce, some tomato, some cucumber and then back to kidney beans, adding layers as you go of each item.  You should end up with tomatoes on top.  Cover and chill until ready to eat.

As I noted above, this can just be put out on the table with all the trimmings (cheese, nachos and dressings) and let everyone help themselves.  If you have any leftover, it’s a great take-to-work lunch!




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