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Original Taco Salad

Back in the old days before there were chain restaurants on every corner, someone created what came to be known as Taco Salad. Amazingly, they did this without the benefit of packaged taco seasoning, Doritos and bowl-shaped taco shells. It was a smash success and, I think, is still the best.
  • 1 large head iceburg lettuce or 1-1/2 medium heads
  • 1 to 1-1/4 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 15-ounce can Ranch Style beans or "chili beans", drained
  • 3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion or green onion (both white and green part)
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups slightly crushed Fritos
  • 2 ripe Haas avocados, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
With a paring knife, remove the core from the head of lettuce, as well as any thick ribs. Wash and drain well on paper towels in the refrigerator. Pat excess water from lettuce with more paper towels.

Brown the ground beef with the chili powder, cumin, garlic and oregano. Drain well. Set aside and keep at room temperature.

Tear the chilled lettuce into bite-size pieces and combine in a large bowl with the beef mixture, beans, tomatoes, onion, cheese, Fritos and avocados. Toss to combine ingredients.

Mix the salt and lemon juice with the mayonnaise and stir until smooth. Pour mixture over the salad and toss again. Serve at once.
Makes about 8 to 10 generous servings.

Prep time: 35 minutes; Cooking time: 10 minutes; Total time: 45 minutes

Note: This recipe makes a lot of salad. It's a great choice for a buffet or gathering of eight, ten or a dozen guests. If you are making the recipe as stated here, you'll need a very large bowl in which to toss the salad and a somewhat smaller bowl in which to serve it. However, the recipe can be easily halved if you're cooking for a smaller group.

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