The perfect meatless taco salad

That handful of cheddar cheese piled on top was supposed to be guacamole. When I picked up an avocado at the store it was rock hard so I was forced to say, “Boo, you whore!” and toss it back. (Sorry, I’m on a Mean Girls kick this week!)

I was inspired by Chipotle’s corn and bean salsa, of which I know nothing about other than this simple equation:

corn + black beans = GOOD.

My corn and bean salsa went a little like this:

I added a can of naturally sweet corn (no sugar added) to a can of black beans, half a finely diced red onion, a few squirts of lime juice and the juice of half a lemon, a couple shakes of sea salt and small shake of balsamic vinegar. Make it first so the flavors can sit together for a while before you toss it on the salad.

I really should have taken photos as I piled on the layers, because under the black bean corn salsa is a beautiful, bright red, home made tomato sauce covering  half a cup of hot pinto beans.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again, I don’t like strict recipes. Overall this salad does not require exact measurements. However, as a guide I generally stick to measurements when I make the sauce. Kinda.

For one can of crushed tomatoes think about adding around a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar each, along with a teaspoon of cumin, a teaspoon of chili powder and a couple shakes of sea salt. Throw in a handful of finely diced red onions and a clove of garlic and you’re set. This needs to simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes. This part is the most important part. You want a nice, mildly sweet tomato sauce and this won’t happen unless you let the sourness of the raw tomatoes cook down. (If you can’t tell, I’m not a raw tomato fan!)

Once the tomato sauce is almost finished you can heat the pinto beans with a little butter, oil, whichever you like, and some cumin and salt.

At this point you can assemble. Salad + pinto beans + tomato sauce + black bean corn salsa + cheddar cheese or guacamole + sour cream if you like. I suppose you could put both guac and cheddar, but there’s really no need. The salad has so much flavor as it is.

Obviously this is one of those recipes that is perfect for people to customize and very easily made vegan, but I’d definitely recommend having at least four layers: salad, beans, sauce, bean + corn salsa. This would also be good as a burrito filling or on top of rice, but I really love the cool, crisp crunch the salad adds to the warm flavors of the beans and tomato sauce.

Also, if you’re a better person than me and you soak dried beans overnight rather than using canned, you’ll have a chemical free and tastier salad!

If you make this how I made it you’ll have enough for two large bowls. I couldn’t finish mine, but my husband (who claims too many vegetables give him a “veggie headache”) polished his and couldn’t stop talking about how tasty it was!

If you try it, let me know how you like it!


12 thoughts on “The perfect meatless taco salad

  1. Yummy! Can’t wait to try it out. I really appreciate the free-wheeling approach you take to recipes. I can’t cook any other way, which is why baking is often a disaster for me. 🙂

    I love the shopping list – Super Helpful.

    • Thanks – I’m glad someone appreciates it! As for the shopping list, I figured I should try to add a teeny bit of organization to the list. It’s not printable though … so I’ll need to work on that!

  2. Another awesome recipe! I never thought of balsamic vinegar in my taco sauce! That’s great!! This is going on my meal plan for next week!! You’re on a cooking roll here!

      • I made this for dinner last night, and had leftover for lunch today. It was soooo good!! I can’t wait to finish it off tomorrow!

        You were spot on with the vinegar, which is exactly why internet cook rocks. I thought my Mex recipes were close, but once I added the vinegar, I realized how much better it could get 🙂 Also, I didn’t have any balsamic vinegar on hand, but for future reference, a whole lime and red wine vinegar worked really well! (If you ever run out, but it sounds like balsamic might be one of your pantry must haves!)

        • So glad you tried it and liked it!! Balsamic has turned into a pantry staple for me because so many things are surprisingly good with it’s bit of sweetness and tang added in. I also put it in chili and this strawberry pesto recipe I found. I might just make a whole post about balsamic!

          • Do! I’d love to see what else you’ve found that vinegar just rocks with. This past Easter, my Mom made strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar, honey, and fresh basil – It might have been the single best desert I’ve ever had, and so I’d love to see more balsamicky recipes! 🙂

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