I live on salads during the summer because it’s too hot to cook. I’m also always on the lookout for something new.
I remember taco salads being very popular when I was a kid but I don’t see them much anymore. The best part of the taco salad was the big edible fried tortilla bowl … but let’s not forget the lettuce greens, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, taco meat, and salsa too. ;) I was recently inspired to bring the concept of the taco salad back to our table after catering a taco bar lunch for 80 people and because D. often orders the California Bowl at Rubio’s (a plastic bowl containing rice, black beans, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, and a choice of protein: chicken, shrimp, or fish). It’s such an easy concept–I can’t believe I didn’t think of making my own to-go lunch version! It’s so versatile that I can have a different version everyday: Make it vegan, carb-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, or with meat, there’s a version for every mood and diet! Move over Rubio’s, here comes something leaner (and better)! ;)
My version of the California Bowl starts with this:
Henni’s taco seasoning
(adapted from Alton Brown’s Taco Potion #19)
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 tsp. hot smoked paprika or paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. chipotle pepper powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano
Mix together and store in an airtight container up to 1 month.
To use, add 1 cup chopped onion, 1 Tbsp. taco seasoning, and 1/2 to 1 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste) to one pound of protein (e.g., beans, tofu, mushrooms, ground beef, ground turkey, chicken breast, etc.) when cooking.
Henni’s California bowl
(inspired by D.’s cravings)
Recreating this California bowl (the new taco salad) for lunch to-go requires 2 containers (one small and one big) but it’s well worth the effort. This can be prepared the night before.
In the big container, add any or all of the following, in this order (basically, add all wet ingredients to the bottom of your container and build delicate ingredients on top. This way, the greens don’t get soggy):
Large container (salad)
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Corn kernels (frozen, canned, or fresh)
Diced green bell peppers
Chopped lettuce, spinach, and/or cabbage
Diced avocado or prepared guacamole
Chopped red onion
Lime wedge (optional)
Small container (rice and protein)
Your choice of rice (white, brown, plain, flavored, etc.)
Your choice of beans (black beans, refried beans, chickpeas, etc.)Your choice of protein seasoned with taco seasoning (recipe above) (chicken, ground turkey, ground beef, tofu)
You will heat up the small container of rice and protein at work. If you are using something like grilled chicken, you can add it to the salad container if you prefer to eat it cold. Add the heated rice and beans/protein to your salad. Mix the salad to incorporate the wet ingredients at the bottom of your container, watch the cheese melt into your rice, and enjoy! Add a squeeze of lime, if you like! For a treat, pack some tortilla chips to go with your salad.