Brian and I, love ground beef crispy or crunchy tacos. Hell, when I was pregnant with Baker, I had to have my puffy taco with ground beef fix from Baby A's about every other week. The girls from work and I, would go there for lunch and I'd get so excited about it.
Although a puffy taco, is neither crispy, crunchy or soft; its simply - puffy. The puffy taco would have seasoned ground beef, drizzled with queso and topped with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes. Sounds good, huh?!
One day I was craving a beef taco; and that's how I came up with my beef taco salad. We rarely have crispy taco shells or tortilla chips in the house, I knew I still needed that crunch factor and that's where the sunflower seeds come in.
Technically, this is a beef taco salad without the taco shell or tortilla chips.
BEEF TACO SALAD WITH CILANTRO LIME VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
<the taco meat>
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup water
1 romaine lettuce heart, chopped
1 (5 ounce) package spring mix
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, pitted and cubed
1/2 cup monterrey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
<making the vinaigrette>
Pour the lime juice, honey, vinegar and olive oil into a blender.
Add the cilantro leaves.
Blend until smooth, turn blender off.
Add salt and pepper; turn blender on.
Slowly pour olive oil into mixture, blend until thorougly combined.
Makes 3/4 cup.
<cooking the taco meat>
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the ground beef, cook for 5 minutes or until no longer pink.
Add the diced onions cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the minced garlic; and cook for another minute.
Mix in the salt, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika and water.
Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
<assembling the salad>
Combine romaine lettuce and spring mix in a large bowl or serving platter.
Top with taco meat, tomatoes, avocado, cheese and sunflower seeds
Drizzle with the cilantro lime vinaigrette.
For the vinaigrette, I typically eyeball the amount of cilantro leaves I put in the blender. Start small, remember you can always add more.
Serve the cilantro lime vinaigrette immediately, or store in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
While the beef is cooking, if you haven't done so already; open a can of Tecate and enjoy! Just kidding - take the time to prepare the ingredients for your salad.
You may drain the access fat from the beef before you add the onions and the remaining ingredients. I choose not too; the beef I cook with is pretty lean.
To serve, you can also divide the lettuce mixture among four plates and top with the ingredients. Drizzle the vinaigrette.
You can serve this dish with taco chips or in a crispy tortilla shell.