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Taco Salads: Quick and Easy


You can have an instant meal with taco salad shells

When fluted salad crispers made from taco shells hit the restaurant scene several years ago, they were an instant hit. Many folks thought they were health items because they were stacked with salad ingredients. Never mind that the shell was pretty tasty and had nothing to do with healthful eating. More Tex-Mex than Mexican, they continued to be a staple on many menus.

As their popularity increased, companies began selling products in grocery stores, beginning in the cold sections and then moving out into the aisles. They remain a quick and easy fix to instant meals today. All you have to do is stock your pantry and fridge and do a little pre-preparation for a superb one-dish meal.

The theme does not have to be Mexican to enjoy a taco salad - the name reference is mainly in deference to the holder. So, now you can start filling it with the traditional salad ingredients. From there, you can mix and match whatever is on hand.

If you're in a hurry, just browse the meat section or deli sections - you'll certainly find plenty of precooked meat and poultry to suit your tastes. You can also prepare a traditional taco meal with ground beef, seasoning, onions, lettuce, and cheese.

Fresh tomatoes are always good to include in a taco salad, along with piles of lettuce. For pantry staples, all you need is the salsa of your choice (refrigerate after opening) and seasoning packets or chili powder. Purchase packages of shredded Monterey Jack and keep it frozen to stay fresh. Just remove, let sit for a few minutes and you'll be able to remove enough for further thawing.

Other great ingredients are beans (ranch, refried) and even black-eyed peas. Tuna and chicken salads are also great choices, plus seasoned, pulled pork or fajita meat.

The off-the-shelf shells will need to be heated first - about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the shells as they can overcook and burn very easily. You can precook and heat foods that need to be hot - just do it separately.

Layer as you wish, and enjoy a delicious and easy to make taco salad.

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