Taco Salad with Honey Chipotle Vinaigrette & Pickled Relish
Taco salad is a dish that hardly even requires a recipe. It’s one of those meals that’s reserved for days when you don’t really feel like cooking, but you know you shouldn’t order Postmates yet again. It’s a dump dish, one where you can pile on basically whatever toppings you want and they all seem to work together. This is my kind of dinner, that’s for sure!
To make this taco salad worthy of a blog post, I included two special elements—a honey chipotle vinaigrette and pickled relish. If you’ve ever had a salad at Chipotle before, you’ll notice that this salad dressing tastes quite similar to theirs (and, in my opinion, it’s just as delicious). And if you’ve ever been to a Tex-Mex restaurant, you’ll recognize the pickled relish here, a mixture of yellow onions, carrots and jalapeños. Additionally, I topped my salad with quinoa, black beans, roasted corn, cilantro and queso fresco and garnished it with blue corn tortilla chips. I will readily admit that my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I didn’t remotely finish the salad featured in these photos!
HONEY CHIPOTLE VINAIGRETTE
2/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. olive oil
4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 t. dried oregano
Dash of salt & pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small food processor and purée until smooth. You’ll definitely want to adjust the ingredients as needed—upon first taste, the dressing I made was a bit too bitter and vinegary, so I added extra honey, chipotle peppers and oregano. It’s definitely a potent dressing, so a little goes a long way (we had a bunch left over, FYI).
PICKLED RELISH (INGREDIENTS NEEDED PER ONE JAR)
Mason jar or something with a tight-fitting lid
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced thinly
2 large carrots, shredded and sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced (I removed most of the seeds as well)
1/4 c. rice vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white sugar
Add the veggies, vinegar, salt and sugar to a Mason jar, then fill the rest of the way with water so the jar is full. Tighten the lid and shake well. Allow to sit in the fridge for at least an hour (it will be totally delicious after an hour, but because the carrots and jalapeño are tougher than the onion, I’d really suggest at least two hours). Consume the relish within 10-14 days.
TACO SALAD (SUGGESTED TOPPINGS & ASSEMBLY)
1/4 c. quinoa, cooked according to package directions
1 - 14.5 oz can black beans, drained
Fresh ears of corn (can use canned fiesta corn if you want)
Lettuce of your choice
Blue corn tortilla chips, optional
Combine the quinoa and black beans in a bowl together and pour in a bit of the honey chipotle dressing. Stir well to coat. Place your lettuce on a plate, scoop on the quinoa/black bean mixture, then top with pickled relish, grilled corn (we shucked the corn, sprayed it with cooking spray and grilled it on the outdoor grill), sliced avocado, queso fresco and fresh cilantro. Garnish with blue corn tortilla chips and drizzle with additional dressing, if desired.