Skinny Taco Salad
Taco salad was one of the first “adult” meals I ever ordered in a restaurant. An all-knowing teenager, I was eager to prove to my mom that I was mature in every way, including my meal choices. Surely if I selected a dish from the salad section of the menu as I assumed other mature, responsible women did too, she would extend my curfew. Although my logic turned out to be flawed (didn’t she hear me ask for the dressing on the side?), I happily discovered that taco salad tastes absolutely delightful. Today’s Skinny Taco Salad, made with ground turkey, is my at-home version of a restaurant classic that’s easy to make and healthy too!
This post is brought to you by Old El Paso.
Skinny Taco Salad has all the fixings you’d find in your favorite taco—black beans, corn, spiced ground turkey, cheese, avocado, salsa, the works!—but is sooooo much easier to eat. Instead of attempting to cram all the good stuff into a shell that shatters the moment you take a bite, I piled the taco fixings onto a bed of crisp romaine lettuce, then showered crunchy tortilla strips over the top.
One of the elements of restaurant salads I didn’t consider when I was a teenager but am more aware of now is the fact that, despite their perception as being “healthy” options, heavy dressings and an overabundance of high-fat toppings can often make salads a poorer nutritional choice than other items on the menu. Making your own healthy taco salad at home means that you can control the ingredients and portions to make it as wholesome as you choose.
To create a lower-calorie taco salad recipe that still packed restaurant-worthy satisfaction, I used ground turkey in place of ground beef, then piled it high with flavorful but healthy toppings such as black beans and tomatoes. I went lighter on the cheese but used an extra-sharp cheddar to make sure I could still taste it in every bite.
To make a healthy taco salad dressing, I mixed together salsa and plain nonfat Greek yogurt. The yogurt tastes just like a big dollop of sour cream but without the additional calories, and it gives the Skinny Taco Salad an extra boost of protein too.
The final element of this Skinny Taco Salad is the taco “shell.” One of the secrets to making a really great salad is adding crunch. In place of fried chips, I used oven-baked strips of Old El Paso flour tortillas. It only took a few minutes to toss them into the oven, and the texture they added to the Skinny Taco Salad was completely worth the small effort. If you’d like to keep the salad gluten free, you can cut and bake corn tortillas instead.
This Skinny Taco Salad is also ideal for meal prep. Chop the veggies and cook the turkey in advance and store them individually in the refrigerator. Then throughout the week, you can quickly assemble individual portions and add any other toppings you desire. I’ve suggested some of my favorite additions, but feel free to jazz it up with avocado, add some kick with jalapeño, or take this Skinny Taco Salad wherever else your Tex-Mex dreams may dare.
Skinny Taco Salad
Skinny Taco Salad with ground turkey, black beans, avocado, and Greek yogurt salsa dressing. An easy, delicious, low-carb recipe.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
For the taco salad:
- 2 Old El Paso Fajita-Size Flour Tortillas
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
- 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 head romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (11-ounce) can Mexican-style corn, drained
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
For the salsa yogurt dressing:
- 1/4 cup prepared salsa
- 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- Place a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Stack the tortillas and cut them in half, then slice each half into 1/2-inch strips. Scatter the strips in the middle of the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat, then spread them into a single layer. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a large, nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium high. Add the turkey, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Break up the meat and stir with a spoon until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the salsa and Greek yogurt to make the dressing.
- Place the romaine in a large serving bowl. Top with 1/4 cup of the salsa-yogurt mixture, the turkey, black beans, corn, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, cheese, and green onions. Toss lightly to combine, then sprinkle the tortilla strips over the top. Serve immediately with remaining salsa-yogurt dressing as desired.
- To make the recipe gluten free, swap corn tortillas in place of the flour tortillas. Check the baking time a few minutes early, as the corn tortillas may crisp more quickly.
- Make it ahead: Store the cooked ground turkey in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, the corn and black beans in a separate container for up to 4 days, the dressing in a container for up to 4 days, and the chopped tomatoes in a container for up to 3 days. Washed, chopped lettuce can also be stored in the crisper drawer for 2 to 3 days. Assemble the salad just before serving.
Serving Size: 1 (of 4)
- Amount Per Serving:
- Calories: 487 Calories
- Total Fat: 15g
- Saturated Fat: 4g
- Cholesterol: 109mg
- Sodium: 1043mg
- Carbohydrates: 54g
- Fiber: 9g
- Sugar: 9g
- Protein: 39g
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