About the Recipe
What’s special about this taco salad is a yummy veggie “taco meat.” Finely chopped sautéed shiitake mushrooms and ground walnuts take on a similar texture to ground beef or ground turkey, and tamari, chili powder, and a touch of balsamic vinegar give them a savory/spiced flavor. Combined with romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, black beans, crispy tortilla strips, and a dollop of cilantro lime salad dressing, this tasty “meat” makes this salad one of my all-time favorite summer meals!
2 corn tortillas, sliced into strips
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1 medium head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
2 red radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup sliced cherry tomatoes and/or pico de gallo
1 avocado, sliced
Jalapeno slices, optional
Cilantro Lime Dressing, the creamy avocado variation
Lime wedges, for serving
Shiitake Taco “Meat”
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and diced
1 cup crushed walnuts
1 tablespoon tamari
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make a great taco salad, you need a mix of textures and tastes – something creamy, something zesty, something crunchy, something tangy, and something crisp – all over lots of greens. Here’s what I use to make this healthy taco salad recipe so filling, fresh, and fun:
Romaine lettuce, because it wouldn’t be a taco salad without a base of crispy greens!
Shiitake Walnut Taco “Meat” and Black Beans, for savory, smoky flavor and hearty texture
Tomatoes and pico de gallo, for a juicy contrast to the crunchy veggies and tortilla strips
Tortilla strips, for that irresistible toasted corn flavor and crispy texture
Red cabbage and radishes, for bright pops of color and extra crunch
Jalapeño, for a little heat
Sliced avocado & avocado cilantro lime dressing, for a zingy, creamy finish
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tortilla strips with a tiny bit of olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Spread onto the sheet and bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until crispy.
Make the Shiitake Taco “Meat”: In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring only occasionally, until they begin to brown and soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the walnuts and lightly toast for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tamari and the chili powder. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir again. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the salad with the romaine lettuce, cabbage, black beans, taco meat, radishes, tomatoes, avocado, jalapenos, if using, and generous dollops of cilantro lime avocado dressing. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with lime wedges and extra dressing on the side.
Healthy Taco Salad Tips
Make your own tortilla strips by toasting corn tortillas in the oven. That way, you can control how crispy they get and how much oil you use. But if you’re crunched for time, crushed tortilla chips or store bought tortilla strips work here too.
Skip the spice. If you’re not a fan of spicy food, feel free to leave out the jalapeño! You could also use pickled jalapeño for an extra tangy pop.
Make it ahead. If you prep the components ahead of time and store them separately, this recipe is a great choice for a make-ahead lunch. Assemble the salad in the morning, and toss on the dressing and the avocado right before you’re ready to eat! See this post for more of my best lunch-packing tips.
Taco Salad Recipe Variations
Like all salad recipes, this one is great to play with. Swap in the veggies you have on hand or adjust the toppings to make something you really love. Here are some suggestions:
Switch the sauce. Any of the 3 versions of my cilantro lime dressing would work here. Omit the avocado and serve it as a vinaigrette, or use Greek yogurt instead of the avocado to make it creamy. You could also skip this dressing entirely and finish the salad with tomatillo salsa or chipotle sauce.
Change up the creamy component. I love avocado here, but guacamole is just as good. Alternatively, try adding crumbled Cotija or grated cheddar cheese, cashew sour cream, or Greek yogurt!
Make it fruity. Substitute mango or pineapple salsa for the pico, or use both!
Vary the veggies. Raw or sautéed bell pepper, charred poblano, corn, or green onions would all be great additions.
Make it a burrito bowl! Reduce the lettuce by half and add a scoop of cilantro lime rice to the bottom of your bowl.