As much as I love tacos, I really love taco salad. In fact, any time I make tacos for dinner, I usually have a taco salad for lunch the next day to use up any of the remaining ingredients. But today’s taco salad isn’t just any “kitchen sink” salad… what’s special about this taco salad is the yummy veggie “taco meat” that’s, well, the meat of the salad. Finely chopped sautéed shiitake mushrooms and ground walnuts take on a similar texture to ground beef taco meat, while tamari, chili powder, and a touch of balsamic vinegar give it a savory/spiced flavor. Combined with crisp romaine, veggies, juicy tomatoes, black beans, crispy tortilla strips, and a dollop of avocado cilantro lime sauce, this is my favorite salad to eat for lunch (or dinner) all summer long!
My Taco Salad Recipe Ingredients
To make a great taco salad, you need a mix of textures & 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 taco salad recipe so filling, fresh & 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 salad dressing, for a zingy, creamy finish
A Few Taco Salad Tips
- I like to make my own tortilla strips by toasting corn tortillas in the oven. That way, I can control how crispy they get and how much oil I use. But if you’re crunched for time, crushed tortilla chips could work too.
- 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.
- 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. I love topping this salad with big dollops of avocado cilantro lime dressing, but any of the 3 versions of this sauce would work here. Omit the avocado and serve it as a vinaigrette, or use Greek yogurt instead of the avocado to make it creamy (see this post for the variations). Or skip the dressing entirely, and finish the salad with tomatillo salsa.
- Change up the creamy component. I love avocado here, but guacamole is just as good. Alternatively, try adding crumbled Cotija or grated cheddar cheese, a dollop of 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.
If you love this taco salad recipe…
- 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)
- Sea salt
- Lime wedges, for serving
- 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
- 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.