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Taco Salad for a Crowd of Hungry People

My niece must really love my Taco Salad for a Crowd! It’s been her pick for her birthday dinner for years! (If you’ve read this you know I let the kids pick whatever they want for their birthday dinner… Creamy Tomato Soup is a big birthday hit! ) Even when she went off to college, she would come home for her birthday just to have my Taco Salad for a Crowd! And, yes, it’s always a crowd – my sister and her husband have 5 kids and my hubby and I have 8, not to mention any friends she may invite. Definitely a crowd! And who can blame her for loving it? It’s loaded with all her favorites – tasty savory ground beef, crisp iceberg lettuce, juicy ripe tomatoes, salty black olives, tender perfectly ripe avocados, tangy cheese, cool sour cream… the list goes on and on!Taco Salad for a Crowd Vertical with watermark

But the fact that she’s picked it for her birthday dinner for years and comes home from college to eat it isn’t how I know she loves it! It’s the fact that she’d even eat it out of the trash can! Yes, indeed, that’s how I know just how much she loves my taco salad! But it’s not quite as gross as it sounds. Although, I must admit, it wasn’t one of my best cooking moments.Taco Salad for a Crowd Horizontal with watermark

There I was, happily browning 5 pounds of ground beef for the 20 or so people that would join us for her birthday Taco Salad for a Crowd when she came home from college – so excited to eat “real food” again! She asked if she could help with anything (she’s always so nice that way), so I had her help me drain the fat off the perfectly browned beef. It was a big, heavy pot. We decided to drain it directly into the trash can due to the volume of liquid (probably not the best idea for a lot of reasons…) So I held the pot while she held the lid against it as we tipped it in unison to drain it. The hot pot hit the side of my arm and I flinched ever so slightly. Due to my flinch, the lid she was holding came ajar. You guessed it… those perfect five pounds of beef went careening down into the trash can! We just stood there staring at the bottom of the black hole (otherwise known as the large trash can full of our dinner). We looked at each other, speechless. Then we just busted up laughing. We had 20 people arriving for dinner in 15 minutes.

It went something like this:

Me: I guess I’ll run to Taco Bell and get us some tacos for dinner instead.

My Niece: NO!!!!

Me: What the heck am I supposed to do?

My Niece: Dig it out of the trash! Duh!

Me: You’ve gotta be kidding me!

My Niece: We just put a new trash bag in it before we dumped it! There’s nothing else in there! We’re definitely digging it out of the trash!

Me: Not a chance!

My Niece: Please!!! It’s my birthday and you’ve always said I can have anything I want for my birthday dinner. I want that taco salad! We won’t tell anyone. I promise!

Me: sigh….

So I did what any good cook would do. My niece and I dug the ground beef out of the trash. I made the Taco Salad for a Crowd – chopped the cool iceberg, diced the red, ripe tomatoes, cut up the tender avocados, shredded the sharp cheddar, whipped up some dressing and topped it all with cilantro, olives, and sour cream! Then I served it with chips and salsa, a smile on my face, and a wink to my niece. And no one ever knew. (Until now, I suppose…)Taco Salad for a Crowd Overhead with watermark

As usual, it was delicious. The entire hungry crowd raved about the whole meal! It didn’t take long for them to devour every last morsel. And they were none the wiser. Everyone had full bellies and happy faces! (And no one got sick!) There’s just something about this Taco Salad for a Crowd that’s SO good people are even willing to eat it out of the trash! (Well, at least two of us are…)Taco Salad for a Crowd Overview with watermark

(If I had my Snapchat back then, I’m sure you all would have seen it live! So friend me now on Snapchat! Who knows what you’ll see! (Username: @TheSpicyApron). And don’t forget to Share this on Facebook with anyone you know who’s had a kitchen disaster, but hid it from everyone! They’ll appreciate it!

 

 

Taco Salad for a Crowd Horizontal with watermark
Taco Salad for a Crowd of Hungry People
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Taco Salad for a Crowd Horizontal with watermark
Taco Salad for a Crowd of Hungry People
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
12 Servings 20 Minutes
Cook Time
20 Minutes
Ingredients
Servings: Servings
Instructions
  1. In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and cook until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add ground beef to brown. It works better in two batches, but it can all be cooked all at once in a pinch. Drain fat, add taco seasoning and water. Simmer 30 minutes uncovered, then drain or remove beef with a slotted spoon.
  2. On a very large platter (or use two smaller ones, just do half of each step on each platter), spread out chopped lettuce. Drizzle with the olive oil and the juice from the limes. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with drained, seasoned ground beef. Add the remaining ingredients in any order you choose. (Example: Lettuce, dressing, ground beef, cheese, corn, black beans, tomato, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, black olives and jalapeno if using.) Garnish with chips and salsa.
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