This salad is a long-time family favorite, as in it is a recipe that I enjoyed when I was a child. If I remember correctly, my aunt gave it to my mom, and it became a salad that was made on a semi-regular basis by my mom. When I became a mom and had children old enough to eat salads, this was one of the first that I introduced to them. Although my kids typically have been open to vegetables, I knew that this salad would be a hit due to two of its ingredients- black olives and tortilla chips.
Many years later it still is a favorite. I do believe the excitement of black olives has waned, but excitement for the salad remains strong. While you can play with the ingredient list, there are a few that are key to this recipe. First, kidney beans are the legume of choice. Although we don’t usually use kidney beans in our tacos, they have the correct size, texture, and flavor for this salad. Second, hamburger (seasoned or not) is also key. You could try diced chicken, but there is something about the little crumbles of meat that work nicely in this salad. Finally, tortilla chips are vital to this salad. If you don’t mind a little mess, let your kids do the smashing of the chips themselves. They’ll enjoy crunching them up and distributing them over the salad.
While those three ingredients are key, many other ingredients are interchangeable. Almost any lettuce can be used, depending on your preference. Tomatoes, peppers, carrots, corn, and scallions have graced this salad at different times, and other veggies most definitely could be added. The original dressing for this salad is thousand island. I’m not sure how thousand island dressing is part of a taco, but it does seem to work. I personally prefer using salsa, and other family members prefer a blend of salsa and sour cream. Basically, there are many variations on the original salad. Make it however suits you and your family best.
- 3/4 lb. hamburger
- 3 romaine hearts, rinsed & ends removed
- 1 16 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
- 1 red pepper, seeded & diced
- 20 grape tomatoes
- shredded cheddar cheese
- tortilla chips
- Dressing- thousand island, sour cream, and/or salsa
- Cook hamburger in a large frying pan over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain well.
- Tear romaine into bite-sized pieces, and divide among 4 dinner plates. Top each with 1/3 cup kidney beans. (There may be leftover beans that can be used for another recipe.)
- Divide red pepper, tomatoes, and hamburger among the 4 plates.
- Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese on each plate.
- Give each diner a handful of tortilla chips to be crumbled onto salad plate.
- Top with desired dressing, and enjoy!