Open Arms of Minnesota

Weekly Recipe #159: Western Taco Salad

By Brittany Francis, University of Minnesota/The Emily Program Dietetic Intern

Photo Credit - Alissa Walker/Flickr
Photo Credit – Alissa Walker/Flickr

This is a recipe that my mother makes for me every single time I go home for a visit. It is feel-good home cooking to me, that always reminds me of home, and so I make it often especially when I am home sick. I remember it being the go-to meal that my mom would bring to all of the potlucks we had for swimming when I was a competitive swimmer.

Colorful vegetables are full of vitamins, and this salad has plenty. Tomatoes contain Vitamin A, C, and K. Red and green peppers are full of Vitamin A, B, and C, and antioxidants so they help boost your immune system. Antioxidants help to stop the development of free radicals that cause damage to cells in the body and are linked to aging, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. With all of the fresh vegetables in this salad, it is full of fiber, which helps with satiety, digestion, and regularity. Also, the ground beef is an excellent source of heme-iron, which is more easily absorbed and helps transport oxygen in the body.

Below is a recipe that my mother recited to me over the phone. She doesn’t necessarily follow a recipe, but just throws in any fresh vegetables she has around the house.

Western Taco Salad

(8 servings)


  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 package low sodium taco seasoning mix
  • 1 large head romaine or iceberg lettuce
  • 1 bottle Western Light dressing
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped green peppers, red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, onions, etc
  • 1 cup tortilla chips crushed
  • ½ cup salsa


1. Brown the ground meat in a large skillet over medium-high heat
2. Drain excess fat.
3. Stir in taco seasoning and 2/3 -cup water.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
5. Chop up lettuce, tomatoes, onion, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and any other vegetable you’d like to add and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle shredded cheese and crushed tortilla chips on top of salad.
6. Once meat has browned and absorbed liquid, add it all to the salad.
7. Pour half of the Western Light dressing on top of salad and toss. Add more if needed. Serve immediately.

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