Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad

Okay, I’m posting on Thanksgiving Day (Canada), but I’d better warn you that this isn’t a Thanksgiving dinner recipe … it’s a recipe that carries a lot of thanks though! I’m so thankful that I came across this yummy recipe and I’m sharing it with you to give you thanks for reading my blog! See, it is about Thanksgiving after all!

I’ve been dying to share this Mexican dish with you for ages. This recipe was inspired by Oh My Veggies The Ultimate Vegan Taco Salad. I have made this countless times – for a family dinner party, for friends, many times just for “Tom” and I, each time a bit different and each time delicious. I’m a big fan of Mexican food and I love to find ways to spice up different combinations of plant based foods to give it a south-of-the-border (south of the USA border, that is, not south of the Canada border) taste. See my menu for a Mexican Fiesta for other Mexi taste treats.

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The original premise was to replace taco meat with something that resembles ground meat in both taste and look, but is not meat. The original recipe calls for farro to serve this purpose. Spice it up a lot and serve it with lots of fresh vegetables and beans and you’ve got a vegan taco salad. Well, I’ve made this with farro, with spelt, with short-grained brown rice, with potato cubes. I’ve used black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, refried beans. I usually leave out the tortilla chips, sometimes serve them on the side and occasionally crumble them on top. Anyway, the variations are endless and hinge on the ingredients on hand, time, purpose and food craving of the moment! So here is the basic recipe followed by my variations/additions:

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad

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1 cup farro, cooked *

1/2 cup mild salsa (I use Herdez)

2 tsps chili powder

2 tsps ground cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

pinch cayenne pepper

salt to taste

1 head iceberg lettuce (or Romaine lettuce), shredded

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped, or several grape tomatoes, halved

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans **

1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)

2 avocados

juice of 1/2 lime

2 tsps finely minced garlic

1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

optional – crushed tortilla chips

salsa

Cook your farro in a rice cooker using 3 cups of water to one cup of  farro. Once cooked, stir in the salsa, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt. You can stir everything together right in the rice cooker. If you are cooking the farro in a pot, once the water has been absorbed and the grain is soft, stir everything straight into the pot with the farro.

Make the guacamole by scooping out the insides of the avocados into a bowl, adding in the lime juice and garlic and mashing everything together.

Assemble the salad by laying down all the lettuce on a platter. Sprinkle on the tomatoes, then the black beans, then the corn. Spread the guacamole over top (or dollop it on all over as it’s kind of hard to spread). Finally, spoon the farro all over the platter. If you want, you can sprinkle on the green onions, cilantro and crushed chips or you can serve them all on the side for diners to add to their plates/bowls as they want.

* instead of farro you can use spelt, wheat berries or short grain brown rice. You can even use potatoes – chop about 4 potatoes into little cubes, toss with a bit of oil and roast in a single layer in the oven at 400 degrees; stir in the salsa and spices.

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** use 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed) or you can use your own homecooked beans. I cook our beans in a slow cooker on high for about 3 to 4 hours, drain, cool, dole out into freezer bags in 1 1/2 cup portions, freeze. Another option is to omit the black beans from the salad and serve some refried beans on the side. You could try this recipe for crock pot refried beans or just heat up a can of refrieds.

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