I am sure you are aware that I am a pro at making guacamole (not convinced? see here and here). I do so both well and often. But I have been withholding something for the better part of my 9 months of blogging, and it is time I finally tell you. I know the secrets to making the ultimate taco salad. I owe this skill almost entirely to my guacamole, as I decided to try taco salad only after growing bored of just chips and guac. It helps, also, that I used to work in a spice store, wherein I developed an intuition for blending spices. Because taco salad is nothing without a dose of fresh, bright flavor. I promise, you will never go back to those MSG-laced packets of seasoning at the grocery store once you realize how easy (and delicious!) it is to make your own.
But aside from guacamole and seasoning, taco salad is entirely dependent on the layering. There is an art to it. Crisp iceberg lettuce sits at the base, beneath crunchy, salty tortilla chips. Chicken tenderloins charred with my homemade taco seasoning and a healthy squirt of lime juice are next, followed by warmed black beans and yellow corn. We don’t stop there. Sprinkle a healthy dose of red bell pepper and white onion, top with a mess of shredded cheese and as much guac as your heart desires. Scatter with fresh cilantro and prepare to be amazed.
I even have photographic proof. Order is everything.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp ground oregano
1/8 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of half a lime
Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne, oregano, onion powder, salt and pepper. When preparing meat/protein for tacos or taco salad, season liberally with this mixture, as well as the juice of half a lime, before cooking.
The Makings of The Perfect Taco Salad
iceberg lettuce, chopped
chicken tenderloins, cooked using the method above and sliced into 1-inch chunks
red bell pepper, diced
white onion, diced
black beans, heated on low and drained of any juices
yellow corn, heated and drained of any juices
shredded cheese (I like this one)
Pile ingredients in the order listed, with iceberg lettuce on the bottom and (my awesome) guacamole on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Dig in.