People who are close to me know how much I love a good cookout. At one get together, I learned this simple taco salad recipe from Cupcake Lab‘s Cay, and with some tweaking and add-ons, it’s been a staple at dinners which I prepare for family and friends. This is also great as a potluck contribution because you can prepare this beforehand, and then warm up before serving. Here’s the recipe, but you can always tweak it to add or deduct other components you would like added.

The preparation time involves a lot of chopping and pre-pre cooking. For one square pan, you’ll need the following: 1lb ground beef, one (or 2) packs taco seasoning (I like McCormick’s version), 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes, one small head of cabbage, shredded, 2 tbsp minced garlic, one tub of sour cream. To top, buy one pack of quickmelt cheese.

I like to make the taco salad more substantial so I add some refried beans. You can buy this at the international section of your grocery. I still have to figure out how this  can of refried beans can be “fat free” when it’s… refried.

First, make the garlic sauce by mixing the 2tbsp garlic with the sour cream. add salt & pepper to taste. Set aside in the fridge while preparing the other ingredients, also so the garlic will infuse the sour cream.

Then cook the beef by browning on a pan, til there is no more red or raw part, I add some red onions while cooking the beef so it becomes more fragrant. then mix the taco seasoning with one cup hot water and add to the beef. Simmer the beef until the liquid evaporates, and you have taco meat!

Time to assemble: Start with the Cabbage, which will absorb all the liquid and fat from the other ingredients. This is good for fiber also.

Next Layer: Refried beans. Put as many, or as little as you want. I find that the refried beans adds authentic Mexican flair .

After the beans, add the meat evenly, then top with white onions. Use onions sparingly, unless you have a lot of gum handy.

I like a LOT of tomatoes. Adds a freshness to the mix.

Then, pour the garlic sour cream sauce and let it settle evenly.

Lastly, top with shredded quickmelt cheese. You can use Mexican cheese mix if you want, but quickmelt is so Filipino.

You can serve this with taco shells (warm it first!) or tortilla chips, completely up to you. I find that warming the dish for 20 minutes at 325 degrees before serving melts the cheese and incorporates the flavors even better. It’s great as a starter without a lot of fuss. Try it also with flat tortillas for a fajita/burrito snack.

Buon Appetito!