Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Return of the Taco Salad

Once upon a time, I had a ton of weight to lose. I saw a nutritionist, changed my diet, exercised every day, and basically LIVED on taco salads. What's not to like? They can be varied so you don't get sick of 'em, they're easy, and they taste scrumptious.

Since I got pregnant, I've been stuffing myself when I get the chance. First, it was because I was 'eating for two', then it was the breastfeeding. That stuff makes ya ravenous! Now? She's eating just fine and the other, sadly, ended months ago. Time to shed those last twenty pounds! Bring on the Taco Salad!
The great thing about being vegan and eating a taco salad is you don't get caught up in drowning them in things like cheese and sour cream. Normally, I love to, instead, drown mine in a chipotle dressing that blows Moe's outta the water, but it's Vegannaise based and not the best bet every time when trying to whittle the waistline, so I was looking for a way to nix it. (I'll be sure to dig it up and share it with you soon, though, because it is SUCH a treat when I'm making them for others and don't run the risk of having a full carafe of dressing to use up on my own that I just have to share it!)

You can go the route of beans or crumbles or, you can do like I did with this one, and saute some tempeh. The flavor of chili powder, cumin, tamari, and a dash of chipotle is such that I never even boil or steam the tempeh. Never notice the bitterness in this dish. I heat up a touch of oil and brown the crumbled tempeh. Add some spices, water, brown some more. Sprinkle in some tamari, soy sauce, or shoyu, and let it get all brown and yummy before taking off the heat.


In place of the dressing (I promise, it's amazing but you won't miss it if you do this), I just chop up a juicy, red tomato. Add some red wine vinegar, oregano, & pinches of sugar and salt to taste and toss. Let that sit while you put together the rest. I like to chop up some lettuce and toss it with some chopped cilantro. Place that either on a plate or in a tortilla shell bowl (you know, if you've been good all day and can eat up the extra calories that way). Top with the tempeh and marinated tomatoes. Green or red onions are good here as well (I didn't have any). Avocado is even better (none of that on hand either). this is where I HIGHLY recommend Dreena's avocado cream. super yum. As I said, I was sans avocado, so that was a luxury I didn't have and I admit, I had to use up some Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream on mine. I know, this is not the healthiest option, but here's a trick. Place one Tablespoon in a plastic or pastry bag. If you're using plastic, seal and cut a tiny hole in the corner. Decorate your salad with the 'sour cream' in such a way that is pretty, spreads it out evenly, but delivers only half the recommended serving size! So good.

I'm not a fan of any vegan cheeses so I never top with that, but you could certainly add that addition if you're so inclined. And seriously, the avocado cream...the cashew one....oh yeah, it's fantastic.
The best part? If you're preparing this for one? You'll certainly have left over ingredients to toss together in a snap the next day either in another salad or a wrap. Oh, and if you were to leave out the shell, scoop up the bites with baked tortilla chips for a lower fat meal!

12 comments:

Emmie said...

I'm a fan of taco salad too. Yours looks lovely!

VeggieGirl said...

¡OlĂ©! :-)

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

That is a seriously awesome taco salad!

Vivacious Vegan said...

I like to bake my taco salad shells in the oven. I just drape them over a large tin can (or small oven safe bowl) and as they soften they get nice waves in them which stay when they harden up.

Love the sour cream idea!

Don't Get Mad Get Vegan! said...

yeah, I bake mine too. it just seems like it'd somehow be healthier to serve the salad with a small handful of baked chips than devour that whole shell. I've honestly never looked and compared tho, so maybe not ! ;)

Vegan_Noodle said...

I will make a note to try that avocado cream! I love taco salads too... but must admit I can be heavy on the tofutti as well.

Hope this salad is helping you reach your weight goals!

aTxVegn said...

Fantastic taco salad! It's such a great one-bowl meal.

jessica said...

I haven't had a taco salad since going veg, but before I went veg, I'd use Pace Picante as the 'dressing.' It was great. I ate it in a regular bowl so no taco shell.

Susan G said...

That is a great idea for tempeh. I'm always looking for ways to disguise that bitter taste!

KTBuns said...

DAMN this looks tasty. I think I might try this with some Boca Ground... *smacks lips!*

bellacola said...

I adore taco salads! Hooray!

leslie said...

i too am a taco salad addict! i have been craving it like crazy lately, but am too lazy to go to the store and get some ingredients. this post is sending me to the store right after work!

and as far as the chips vs. shell debate goes, i just crunch up a small handful of chips and sprinkle that on top - it does the job just fine, and really only takes a few chips!