Taco Salad: Make Your Own Taco Bowl

When I go out for Mexican food (generally Tex-Mex, actually), my favorite things to order are nachos, burritos, and taco salads.  Nachos and burritos are pretty frequent at home too - they're easy to put together, and we try to keep the ingredients around. 

But a taco salad?

The best part of that is obviously the crispy taco bowl, and the ones you can buy in the store always taste a little stale.  So, for my money, they're not worth it.  And Navah wouldn't be able to eat them anyway since they have white flour and usually high fructose corn syrup or sugar, so that just seems cruel.  

What to do?  I noodled around on the interwebs a bit and found a tutorial here on how to make your own fried taco bowls.  I came across some baked ones as well, but I wasn't sure whether those would really get crispy.  And we love fried things.  

I'm sorry to report that I only have one somewhat sad photo of the process of creating the taco bowls because I started a bit of a grease fire in the process.  Everything is quite alright, and I don't have any great tips for how to not make that happen except that it's probably not a task you'd want to assign to your child.  

Vegetarian Taco Salad with Fried Taco Salad Bowls

Taco salad bowls 
Adapted from Creating Through Life

10 inch flour tortillas (we used whole wheat tortillas)
1 empty can (I used the one from the beans for the salad)
small pot (smaller in diameter than tortillas)
vegetable oil

The one sad process photo.  I had to use the tongs to flip that floppy bit out so it would form a bowl.

1.  I didn't remove mine, but you should probably remove the label off your can and wash and dry it.
2.  In your pot, heat the oil - about 2 inches deep - until it's 375 degrees.  You can, of course, test this with a thermometer, but you can also put the bottom off a wooden spoon in.  If it bubbles, it's ready.
3.  Optional step:  Dip the tortilla for just a second into a pan of water to soften it.  This may be why I started a grease fire, so beware.
4.  Place a tortilla on top of the oil.  Holding the can with the tongs, place it in the center of the tortilla and push the tortilla gently down into the oil.
5.  Hold the can there for about 5 seconds, or until the tortilla shape is set.  Then remove the can and move the tortilla around in the oil with the tongs until it's all as crispy as you'd like.  (Because we only have very tiny or very big pots, my tortilla wouldn't totally fit in the pot, so I did a lot of moving it around afterwards to get all the bits crispy.)
6.  Remove the tortilla with the tongs and place upside down on paper towel to cool.

The Vegetarian Taco Salad Filling

1 can beans (we used kidney, but black beans, or white beans would also work)
1 onion
2 sweet potatoes
2 cups romaine lettuce
1 tomato
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
optional toppings (cheese, avocado, salsa, sour cream, olives, etc)

1.  Put a small pot of water on to boil.
2.  Chop the sweet potatoes into small cubes (about 1/4 thick).  Place in the pot of water and boil until just soft.
3.  While the sweet potatoes are boiling, chop up the onion and place in a frying pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook on medium heat until the onions turn clear.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 
4.  Drain the sweet potatoes and add to the onions, along with the can of beans and the chili powder, cumin, and paprika.  
5.  Cook over medium-low to medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
7.  While the bean and potato mixture is cooking, prepare your salad bowls with lettuce, chop up a tomato, and get out any toppings you would like.
8.  Remove the bean and potato mixture from the stove and place a generous spoonful on top of the lettuce in your salad bowl. 
9.  Top with tomatoes and whatever toppings you've chosen.