Is a party really a party without layered taco dip? The answer is no! This…
The Ultimate Turkey Taco Salad
Hands down the best salad combo ever invented! The feel-good way to eat a taco without that large fried shell of a bowl, no heavy dressings and still all the flavors you need when eating a classic bowl of taco salad! Lighten it up with turkey and a few secret swaps and you’ve got yourself a winner!
I really don’t think I know a normal human being that doesn’t like tacos. Yes, I can name a few that would pass up a salad when given the choice, but I assure you today, that won’t be the case.
Taco salads (and all taco related foods) are a staple in my house. I’m also a salad lover so this just checks off all the boxes! The only issue I run into with taco salads when you’re ordering those massive ones at a restaurant is that they lack any type of nutrition and are loaded with unnecessary calories. The bowl (usually an extra large deep fried tortilla) is full of grease. The dressing is cream-based which means it has a ton of saturated fats. Don’t forget the mountain of cheese and beef that both weigh down the nutrient-less iceberg lettuce, really defeating the purpose of why you probably ordered a salad.
Although I’m not going to admit I’ve never enjoyed a restaurant style taco salad or two (they’re amazing!!!), I also feel like a few adjustments and lighter ingredients can offer the same experience without walking away feeling bloated and weighed down. First, don’t hate me, we’re going to have to nix the bowl and bake our way to that crunchy element. Trust me on this! Did you really want to have to wait till the end of the meal to eat the best part?
Not only are we keeping everything light, baked and bursting with flavor…we are swapping the beef for turkey and the sour cream for Greek yogurt. That’s right! Don’t stick your nose up, it’s happening…and you’re going to LOVE IT! I also want to say that although cheese is a must, there tends to be a ridiculous amount added to a standard salad. I remember once ordering a salad at a restaurant and the cheese was 80% of the whole meal, I kid you not.
There are so many amazing components to this salad that make it special. A lot of which I made from scratch. Even though I suggest you do the same, make it how you want with what you want! A salad is perfect for the whole family because you can set all the toppings out and allow everyone to make a creation based on what they’re craving in the moment.
Here are a couple of my other recipes that I would suggest checking out if you too want to make a bomb-@$$ salad:
- Jalapeno Ranch Dressing
- Charred Tomato Salsa
- TableSide Guacamole and Baked Tortilla Chips
- Pico de Gallo
- Texas Caviar (Black Bean Corn Salad)
So now you know! If you don’t want to skip Taco Tuesday but you’re still trying to eat a little better, I got you covered! Enjoy an extra cerveza or two because you’re killing it with eating a wholesome, healthy taco salad!
The Ultimate Turkey Taco Salad
For the Turkey Meat
- ½ small onion chopped
- ½ medium bell pepper chopped
- ½ jalapeno diced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 ounce packet low sodium taco seasoning (or see homemade seasoning recipe – coming soon!)
For the Tortilla Chips
- 10-12 4-5" corn tortillas cut into strips or chips
- nonstick cooking spray
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Salad & Toppings
- 3-4 medium heads romaine lettuce washed, chopped
- 1 cup low fat or fat free cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend shredded
- 1 cup black bean-corn salad (see Texas Caviar recipe)
- 2 medium-large Hass avocados sliced
- ½ pint cherry or grape tomatoes halved
- ½ medium red onion chopped
- ½-¾ cup jalapeno ranch dressing (see recipe)
- ½ cup pico de gallo or charred tomato salad (optional)
- ¼ cup large pitted black olives sliced (optional)
- 1 large jalapeno thinly sliced (optional)
- 3-4 dollops plain nonfat greek yogurt (optional)
- lime wedges (optional)
- cilantro (optional)
- green onions chopped (optional)
- hot sauce (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400°
For the Meat:
- Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat with olive oil. Add onions, bell peppers and jalapenos. Cook until slightly translucent for about 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add ground turkey and break apart while it cooks. As the meat starts to become brown, add taco seasoning. Add about 1/4-1/2 cup of water if all contents become dry and start sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook for about 4-6 minutes until the meat is browned and cooked all the way through and there is no liquid or juices in the pan. Remove turkey mixture from the pan and place on a plate to let cool.
For Tortilla Chips:
- (oven should be preheated at this time)
- Slice tortillas into 6 sections. Line 2-3 baking sheets with foil and spray with non stick cooking spray. Lay tortilla slices on single layer on each sheet. This may be done in several batches based on sheet size. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. All other seasonings are optional to add at this time.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes. Check to make sure that they are crisping up. If they start to get brown, that means they are probably done. Remove from oven when they become golden.
- If some chips seem under cook after allowing them to cool for 2-3 minutes, they can be added back to the oven for 2 minutes.
For the Salad:
- Wash and dry lettuce and then roughly chop leaves into bite sized pieces. Arrange in a large serving bowl or in individual bowls.
- Top with turkey, cheese, black bean/corn salad, avocados, pico/tomato salsa, onions, and any and all other ingredients you prefer to add to the salad.
- Add the dressing at the end to either the entire serving bowl or divide up amongst the individual bowls. Gently toss and top with Tortilla chips!
- For the cheese – cheddar, taco/Mexican blends, queso fresco or even pepper jack works on this salad
- For the greens – I think Romaine is the best but I also like to add something a little darker like a spring mix that has baby kale and spinach. Your best bet is Romaine though.
- The turkey is the closest you’ll get to that classic beef taco topping, however, ground chicken or even a meatless substitute works. I have used frozen veggie crumbles before or my lentil taco filling!
- My favorite swap for not only the dressing but also the sour cream is Greek yogurt! Use my Greek yogurt Jalapeño Ranch Dressing and top off the salad with plain, nonfat, Greek yogurt…I’m telling you, you’ll be SHOCKED at how much you don’t miss the sour cream! (And no, plain regular yogurt is not the same!)
- CORN & BLACK BEANS!!!! I get that you may not want to make the “Texas Caviar” in order to make this salad so feel free to throw just corn and black beans on the salad and set them out for the people to add them to their own bowls. Simply rinse cans of black beans and add sautéed frozen corn. This works just as well!